The FAA has issued a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB) focusing on potential airworthiness implications of increased aircraft interior disinfection due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The bulletin emphasized that owners and operators should be aware of the potential negative impacts of disinfectants and make sure aircraft manufacturers’ disinfection guidelines are followed. While the SAIB is primarily intended for transport category airplanes, the FAA noted that the information could also apply to other categories of aircraft.
“Although disinfection is not directly related to aircraft airworthiness, too frequent or improper application could result in negative impacts, which could include the following conditions: Corrosion, embrittlement, increased flammability, electrical short circuit,” the FAA said in the SAIB. “Depending on the system or part affected, any of these conditions could create either an immediate or latent airworthiness issue.”
Guidelines laid out in the SAIB (PDF) include making sure the disinfectant used is compatible with the method of applying it, protecting structures and electrical systems from disinfectants that have potentially corrosive elements and avoiding allowing liquids to pool when cleaning the aircraft. According to the bulletin, the FAA and some aircraft manufacturers are in the process of investigating additional disinfection methods such as ultraviolet radiation and ionization for “effectiveness as a disinfectant and potential effect on the aircraft.” The SAIB supports Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) 20009 (PDF), which provides COVID-19 occupational health and safety guidance for air carriers and crewmembers.