NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Boeing is testing new ways to sanitize its planes amid the coronavirus pandemic. The tests are part of Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator program which is put on annually to test safety and environmentally-friendly technologies.
For the first time, Boeing is using a 787-10, which was assembled entirely in North Charleston, for the ecoDemostrator program.
The plane was made in North Charleston, outfitted in Seattle and is being tested in Montana. Boeing is partnering with Etihad Airways on the 2020 program and is using one the airline’s new 787-10 Dreamliners to also test projects that can reduce emissions and noise.
One of the new technologies being tested is a handheld, UV disinfecting wand. It is being tested on high-touch surfaces, including in the cockpit.
“What we’re trying to do really is provide that confidence to the flying public that it is safe to fly on our airplanes,” technical leader for Boeing’s ecoDemonstrator program Doug Christensen said. “We look at the critical, high-value technologies that need to be demonstrated on airplanes and that’s what we are lining up for the next round of testing.”
Boeing is also testing an anti-microbial coating which is sprayed on surfaces to kill bacteria.
“Those are two big ones that we’re developing,” Christensen said. “We’re trying to make sure they work. And that’s what the Demonstrator program is all about, providing a test-bed for engineers and industry partners to bring ideas and test them and see if they work.”
Christensen said the goal is to be able to disinfect the flight deck in about 15 minutes.
“The speed and effectiveness of the device is really new and novel for the industry,” he added. “We’ve been looking at these technologies for a while... the last year, on our ecoDemonstrator, we had a lab design that we tested and flew...and it uses the same technology, the UV light, to disinfect the lavatory. Because of COVID, we took that technology out of a fixed unit on the airplane and made it into a handheld device that we could take all over the airplane to address the COVID cleaning requirements.
The plane is expected back in North Charleston in September.