In 2017, civil aircraft have transported a new record number of 4.1 billion passengers over vast distances around the world. Civil air travel is increasingly recognized as an important potential source for the rapid spread of infectious diseases that were geographically confined in the past, now creating international epidemics with great health and socio-economic impact.
The HyFly project aims to understand and interrupt the infection transmission routes in air traffic. Therefore, an analysis of risk factors for infection transmission across sectors needs to be performed for aircraft and airports.
A literature review was carried out to investigate the dependencies (contamination, tenacity, and transmission) of microorganisms on the materials surfaces of interior constructions in aircraft. The results suggest that the surfaces in seat areas (tray tables, armrests, seat covers) and lavatories (door knob handles, toilet flush buttons) of aircraft are generally colonized by various types of potentially hazardous microorganisms, which may pose a health risk from causing infections. The variety of interior materials suggests that various types and surface characteristics affect microorganisms differently within the aircraft cabin.
Followed by this survey, the physical and chemical properties of potential hot spot materials surfaces were characterized by AFM, SEM, interferometer, XPS, FTIR, contact angle, and mechanical tests. The microorganism tenacity and transmission on materials surfaces are also investigated depending on passenger contact, abrasion and aging of the materials as well as the cleaning procedures on the microbial dependencies on the surfaces of interior materials. We will present first results of the material surface characterization and how the cleaning procedure influences the material surface structure as well as the microbial adhesion.
This project will finally develop the effective strategies for infection control by optimizing the surface properties (composition, topography, roughness, wettability, etc.) of interior materials within aircraft and improving the disinfection procedure for contaminated materials surfaces by cutting edge UV LED technology.
This work is supported by the InfectControl2020 HYFLY project (Effective strategies for the controlling and dealing with transmission pathway of pathogens in air traffic, grant No. 03ZZ0812A) funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), Germany.