It’s easy to get grossed out dwelling on how dirty airplane cabins can be.
It’s ever grosser when you learn that airlines do not routinely clean, wipe or disinfect cabin surfaces known to harbor all manner of nasty little microbes, from cold and flu bugs to more dangerous strains of staph and even (eeeuw) fecal material.
Many travelers protect themselves by wiping down everything within reach of their seats with sanitizing wipes, avoiding touching mucus membranes during flight, using towels or tissues to touch lavatory buttons, and using hand sanitizer or washing hands as frequently as possible.
But a father and son team in Los Angeles has come up with an interesting solution to the airplane germ problem– they’ve created a robot-like device called Germfalcon that zaps bad bugs using UVC light (used for sterilization in hospitals, food processing plants, etc). And they’ve just launched a Kickstarter to fund it– so far it’s raised nearly $2,000 from 19 backers and is hoping to raise a total $25,000 to get the product to the next level of development. .
The website states: “The patented Germfalcon design optimizes UV-C light exposure to efficiently sanitize the passenger cabin of an airplane while parked and unoccupied. The automated robot spreads its UV-C laden wings across the top of the seats and travels up and down the aisle [like a flight attendant trolley] killing bacteria and viruses thriving in the passenger cabin.” The entire process takes about 15 minutes, according to Germfalcon.
In order to better understand the concept, you need to see this video.
The son of the inventive duo, Mo Kreitenberg, told TravelSkills, “There are no regulations requiring airlines to clean the inside of the plane, so airlines pick up trash and wipe up spills, but traditional disinfectants take too long and damage on-board materials…It is surprising to many people that the airlines do not have a method available to properly disinfect the airplanes. Our product solves this problem.”
Germfalcon’s Kickstarter page has a timeline which shows that it demonstrated the robot at SFO last month to a “launch airline” but declined to name the carrier. Since SFO is home base for Virgin America, I queried a spokesperson there who confirmed that the carrier “has taken a look at the product, but that there are no plans to use it at this time.”
Should airlines use tools like Germfalcon to sanitize planes? Would an airline that uses Germfalcon be more likely to win your business? How likely is it that airlines will adopt cleaning methods like this?
Please leave your comments below.
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