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Air Iceland Dash 8 (Photo: Konstantin von Wedelstaedt [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html) or GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia Commons)

How De Havilland Canada Plans To Combat COVID-19 On Its Aircraft

In this time period of COVID-19, aircraft cabin sanitization has become an increasingly prominent aspect of air travel. Many airlines have integrated their own improved cleaning and sanitizing processes into daily flight operations. Meanwhile, major aircraft manufacturers have also explored, developed and integrated a wide range of technology to evolve traditional cleaning protocols. 

De Havilland Canada officially announced this week its joint partnership with Aero HygenX Inc. to develop and promote RAY — an autonomous robot — which will disinfect Dash 8 series aircraft between each flight. The autonomous robot will use high-frequency ultraviolet-C light, staying away from traditional chemical-based disinfectants and surface coatings commonly used today.

“The cabin environmental control systems on our Dash 8 Series aircraft are highly effective in providing safe air quality for passengers during flight, and RAY will be a consistent, sustainable and chemical-free means of disinfecting the cabin air and surfaces between flights,” De Havilland Canada’s Vice President of Engineering and Quality Robert Mobilio said. 

This new version of the autonomous robot will have a compact design to facilitate sanitization coverage around the entire cabin. In addition, the Toronto-based aircraft manufacturer will also use RAY to disinfect lavatories and crew areas. 

“Working closely with our engineers and operators of Dash 8 aircraft, Aero HygenX is quickly optimizing RAY’s design to meet the specific size and operational requirements of all models of Dash 8 aircraft. We look forward to offering RAY to operators of Dash 8 aircraft soon,” Mobilio added. 

Aircraft Sanitization and Its Future Impact

Within the commercial aviation industry, De Havilland Canada is not unique in its quest to advance and enhancing cabin cleaning procedures during COVID-19. In its Confident Travel Initiative, Boeing highlighted a multilayered approach to keep its aircraft clean. 

In addition, the American aircraft manufacturer developed and designed a portable ultraviolet light wand to wave over high-touch surfaces, disinfecting the areas where the light reaches. Its design is tailored towards sanitizing surfaces that passengers and crew touch frequently. 

De Havilland Canada’s and Boeing’s contributions will allow the aircraft manufacturers and customer airlines to combat the virus on their aircraft. Furthermore, both companies have the opportunity to increase the confidence of the airlines who order and purchase their aircraft. For example, in June 2019, Longview Aviation Capital relaunched De Havilland Canada and acquired the Dash 8 turboprop aircraft program. As a result of the purchase, the Dash 8-400 aircraft received financial support, and the new sanitizing robot could help push production and sales of the aircraft, commonly used on regional routes. 

Certainly, while the increased availability for different technological methods to combat the virus provides airlines the opportunity to embrace and use them on their aircraft, there is still a long pathway towards having pre-COVID 19 travel demand levels. However, with contributions from prominent aircraft manufacturers like De Havilland Canada and Boeing, companies may now be able to focus more closely on consumer confidence as they work to make aircraft safer in the midst of a new era of aviation.

Benjamin Pham
Benjamin Pham
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