Chemical Disinfectant Evaluation and Approval for the Aerospace Industry

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In light of the global pandemic, multiple efforts have been taken to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission when flying. Fast deployment of decontamination procedures is needed to protect passengers, crews, and personnel involved in operation of in-service airplanes and the manufacture of aircraft.

The selection and approval of chemical disinfectants to be used on aircraft components is not trivial. The selection process must ensure that the product used is effective against the target pathogen as well as ensuring the product used on aircraft components does not compromise safety of flight. For a chemical disinfectant to be selected for use on a commercial transport aircraft, it must not impact flammability properties, part or component performance, or aesthetics of the aircraft even with the repeated use of the selected disinfectant.

This paper will discuss what constitutes an effective chemical disinfectant and detail the process Boeing employed in selecting and authorizing chemical disinfectants to be used both within their manufacturing facilities and on aircraft by airline operators.

  • The paper starts with an overview of the various levels of decontamination that can be achieved with chemicals and how the chemistries of the disinfectants relate to the inactivation of pathogens.
  • The paper then dives into material compatibility. It focuses on the different types of material degradations on aerospace components that can occur with chemical exposure and the standard test methods performed to ensure that safety of flight is not compromised and that components are not damaged by the disinfectant’s use.
  • Lastly, the relevance of material compatibility testing to the intended application process is demonstrated.