SkyUp Airlines plane that has operated the special flight PQ7301/7302 to repatriate Ukrainians from China will return to flight operation only after completion of all necessary sanitary-epidemiological and technical measures for full disinfection.
The procedure is developed in accordance with international health requirements and in compliance with all necessary safety measures.
What has already been done: the plane was treated with disinfectants
On 20 February, upon arrival at Kharkiv International Airport, the plane was placed in a separate isolated parking lot. First, after-flight procedures (passport control, customs formalities) were performed, the crew, passengers, and all who contacted them were transferred to the place of observation. Immediately after this, disinfection of the aircraft began.
Specialists of the Disinfection Department of the State Institution “Kharkiv Regional Laboratory Center of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine” (SI “Kharkiv RLC of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine”) performed the procedure. The work lasted about two hours. With special disinfectants, the cockpit, crew lounge, passenger compartment with an on-board kitchen, toilets, and luggage compartment were treated.
All areas were thoroughly sprayed — seats, overhead luggage rack, floor, armrests, tray tables, trolleys, walls, ceiling. All items that are usually cleaned and reused, such as rugs, life jackets, window blinds, safety instructions, supplies for food and drink, were collected and sent for utilization. Things that weren’t essential, such as branded seat headrest covers, brochures, were removed from the plane during its preparation for the special flight. The parking lot and ramp were also disinfected.
After completion of the procedure, the aircraft was closed for several hours, and then opened for ventilation.
The Head of the Infection Control Department of the Center for Public Health, Alexander Matskov confirmed the safety of further flight operation by this plane, “After disinfection, the aircraft will be able to fulfill its tasks safely”.
What's next: replacing the HEPA filter and cabin filters
The air conditioning system inside the plane provides the pressure and temperature range necessary for normal human breathing, as well as the required amount of air. Through the use of filters, air in an plane is usually cleaner and safer than, for example, in offices or public places.
How the air conditioning system works
Basically, the air conditioning system can be divided into three parts for convenience: an air intake system from engines and an auxiliary power unit (APU), an air preparation system, and an air supply system to consumers.
To keep it simple, the whole process can be described as follows: hot air is taken at a temperature of 254°C from an APU’s or engines’ high pressure compressor. This air passes through an air cycle machine (ACM), where it is cooled to almost 0°C and is supplied to the air preparation system.
Air Conditioning Packs (or simply packs), which are usually located underneath the cabin, prepare the air for delivery. Cooled fresh air from the ACM comes here. Also, through exhaust ventilation, which provides air circulation, the air from the passenger compartment purified by filters is mixed into it. The mixed air is heated to a comfortable temperature and is supplied through the outflow valves to consumers.
How air is purified
In a plane, the air that passengers breathe circulates all the time. Fans suck in air from the passenger compartment through the lower side panels, then it is cleaned by air filters and mixed with fresh air from the packs and supplied to consumers. This is the way it works.
The HEPA air filter (High Efficiency Particulate Air Filter), performs the function of a purifier. It is able to clean the air from the smallest particles with a diameter of up to 0.3 micrometer. The cabin is supplied exclusively purified air. Another type of air filter protects temperature sensors.
What air filters will be replaced
On a plane that completed a special flight to Wuhan, there is one fan and one HEPA air filter. On Boeing’s recommendation, SkyUp Airlines will replace the HEPA air filter.
In the cabin there are two temperature sensors protected by air filters. The air carrier will also replace these filters.
When the plane returns to flight operation
On 21 February, technical service is carried out to replace the filters. On 22 February, the plane operates ferry flight to its hub in Boryspil, where it will be prepared for a regular flight. On 23 February, the plane will depart from Kyiv to Hurghada.