Cabin Cleanliness is the 6th most common area of concern for airline customers. Some of the preceding concerns are not within the scope of the airline to address, but the airlines have full responsibility when it comes to recognizing and correcting cleanliness concerns on-flight. Airplanes also serve as an unfortunate but effective means of spreading communicable disease from either passenger to passenger or from departure location to destination.
What it does
UV-C light is used to destroy 99.999% of pathogens on tray tables when they are placed in the upright position between flights. UV-C light is also used to destroy 99.999% of pathogens in the on-flight water prior to dispensation before going through a final particulate filter to provide clean water for on-flight services. An app is also available for download where the customer can track information regarding the flight's water and air quality maintenance logs, with additional information pertaining to specific technologies implemented by SanAir on-flight and other general hygiene practices for the customer to consider.
How we built it
The app was designed using Swift and a model of the UV-C light was created in AutoDesk Fusion360.
The 3D CAD model was designed with the intention to be realistic and practical for an airline while retaining the ability to be easily manufactured and readily implemented into new aircraft. A realistic 3D model of an aircraft seat demonstrating the function of the technology was established using both stock and custom parts. The CAD model has a fully animated worm gear system that is driven by a Nema 11 stepper motor. This allows an array of custom, short-beam UV-C LED's to shine over the entire surface of the tray as it is turned into the upright position. The purpose of the array's capacity to rotate is two-fold. It allows for a smaller amount of LED's to be required to reach the entire surface of the tray, and it also hides the surface of the lenses when the tray is in the open position. The latter prevents the passenger from tampering with or accidentally damaging the UV-C lights during flight. A worm gear was chosen for mechanical advantage in the system. Worm gears provide improved torque and accuracy while being driven, and prevent the array from being rotated by an external force from a passenger. A limit switch was also included in the design that only allows the UV-C LED's to activate if the tray is in the upright position.
After assessing the difficulties in maintaining clean water on an aircraft, lack of intervention in the water filtration system was noted to be a choke point in securing potable water on-flight. New filters will be instituted to aid current UV-C technology used by newer aircraft that kill pathogens along the water feed line. There is no current mechanism in place to ensure that the water remains potable after being deposited into the plane's water reserve once it passes through the first phase of UV-C technology in place. A UV-C system will be placed into the water system between storage and access of the water. Older planes without the current UV-C technology can also be retrofitted with the UV-C light at dispensation as well. An additional particulate filter using activated carbon will be added as an additional measure to remove other organic molecules and contaminants that pose health risks to passengers.
Challenges we ran into
A potential concern was discovered involving an untoward effect of UV-C light in which plastic degrades over time with UV-C exposure. Ionized/Vaporized Hydrogen Peroxide were also looked at for creating an automatic sterilization system in between flights, but the procedure with the current technology at the fastest takes 75 minutes to complete.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
Collaborating together as a team in which each member had a juxtapose background but establishing an approach to combine every skill set available to create an effective and thorough solution for a problem affecting the entire airline industry.
What we learned
UV-C and IHP/VHP are emerging technologies with sanitary uses in aviation and medical industries. Airlines have accountability issues when it comes to ensuring that on-flight water is potable. Current airplane sanitation procedures are not reasonably developed and potentially overlooked to ensure quick turnaround time for the upcoming flight during layover.
What's next for SanAir
Implementing UV-C light into upcoming systems that can be utilized within an aircraft to address further areas of concern for the customer or airline like bathrooms or seat pockets. A deep-clean procedure involving IHP/VHP is being developed to quickly and safely sterilize all surfaces in the cabin without increasing layover times. Integrating a contingency sterilization system in place for emergency outbreaks of a pathogen. Continuing to assist airlines in cost-effectiveness and increasing the Customer Lifetime Value of passengers that fly on airlines operating with SanAir innovation.