March 27, 2020

An NBAA News Hour webinar on March 27 titled “Best Practices for Cleaning and Disinfecting Business Aircraft in a COVID-19 Environment” provided an overview of aircraft cleaning methods to combat the spread of COVID-19.

Moderated by Jo Damato, CAM, NBAA’s vice president of educational strategy and workforce development, the webinar featured presenters who shared government agencies’ official guidance for aircraft cleaning and disinfecting and answered numerous related questions.

For official sources of information, “we look to the World Health Organization, Center for Disease Control and the FAA,” said Brian Koester, CAM, NBAA’s director of flight operations and regulations. “The FAA recently published SAFO 20003, which has guidance for how aircraft operators and pilots and crewmembers can stay safe, while the CDC has put out information about what cleaning materials have been deemed effective against the virus.”

Tyler Harper, AEM Logistics director of events and aircraft detailing and the primary author of NBAA’s Aircraft Disinfection and Cleaning Procedures Guide, suggests reviewing the specifications of individual cleaning products to ensure that they are intended to be used as disinfectants and are noncorrosive and nontoxic.

View the NBAA Aircraft Disinfection and Cleaning Procedures Guide.

“Pay attention to contact time, which can range from 30 seconds to 10 minutes,” said Harper. “If you don’t meet that time, more times than not the product is not going to perform that task” or disinfect as you expect.

Aircraft operators also are urged to seek OEM guidance and examine each cleaning product’s specifications to ensure the product is safe and appropriate for the specific aircraft.

When it comes to keeping crewmembers safe while conducting flight operations and cleaning aircraft, experts encouraged webinar attendees to use appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including gloves, N95 masks or similar, safety goggles and hazmat suits or gowns during cleaning tasks.

Audrey Lambdin is director of client relations at Jet Logistics, Inc., an aeromedical operator that has unique experience in dealing with COVID-19. The company holds contracts with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and has been transporting COVID-19-positive patients for the last several weeks.

Lambdin recommends that pilots provide their own headsets in order to keep microphone muffs from being contaminated and suggests pilots flying known or suspected positive COVID-19 pilots use PPE, including gowns and gloves. However, face masks are only appropriate for known or suspected COVID-19 patients and medical crewmembers – not for the pilots transporting these individuals – as masks have been shown most effective when worn by sick or suspected sick persons.

To help prevent the spread of the virus, crewmembers are encouraged to self-monitor, watching for symptoms and taking their temperatures regularly. Crews should be required to report any symptoms and temperature increases.

This webinar is just one in a series of educational opportunities NBAA has planned for the coming weeks to address operational challenges in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. The next webinar in the series will be held Tuesday, March 31, at 11 a.m. Eastern on the topic of maintaining flight department readiness amidst the COVID-19 spread. To learn more, visit the NBAA News Hour webpage.