United has become the latest airline to get its hands on a long-lasting antimicrobial surface coating as part of its enhanced aircraft cleaning regimen to fight off the risk of the novel Coronavirus. The Zoono Microbe Shield coating is designed to be effective against microbes and bacteria for up to seven days and is classified by the EPA as Category IV, which is the lowest level of toxicity.
Unlike the SurfaceWise2 coating used by American Airlines, however, the Zoono coating is not specifically designed to continuously protect against COVID-19. American Airlines had to seek emergency use authorization for SurfaceWise2 and the product is currently only allowed to be used on aircraft departing from Texas.
SurfaceWise2 remains the only antiviral surface coating approved by the EPA to protect against the novel Coronavirus.
United is currently testing its antimicrobial coating on just 30 aircraft at Chicago O’Hare but hopes to expand the use of the coating to its entire mainline and express fleet by the end of the year. The spray will be used to create a protective layer on seats, tray tables, armrests, overhead bins, lavatories, as well as in crew stations.
“This long-lasting, antimicrobial spray adds an extra level of protection on our aircraft to help better protect our employees and customers,” explained Toby Enqvist, United’s Chief Customer Officer.
“Antimicrobials are an effective complement to our hospital-grade HEPA air filtration system, mandatory mask policy for customers and daily electrostatic spraying. We’ve overhauled our policies and procedures and continue to implement new, innovative solutions that deliver a safer onboard experience,” he continued.
The shield works by bonding to surfaces bonding to surfaces and creating a protective layer that resembles microscopic pins. Once dry, these ‘pins’ rupture the cell walls and membranes of microbes on contact.
Southwest has been using a different long-lasting antimicrobial spray on its aircraft for several months. Southwest claims the electrostatic delivered surface coating can protect against microbes for up to 30 days at a time.
Meanwhile, jetBlue has been testing out ultraviolet light disinfection trolley that is said to be able to disinfect an entire aircraft in just 10-minutes. While this process doesn’t provide any form of long-term against microbes or viruses, it is entirely chemical-free.