Hong Kong airport brings in cleaning robots and disinfection booth
Tamara Hardingham-Gill, CNN • Updated 28th April 2020
(CNN) — Cleaning robots, temperature checks and antimicrobial coatings could soon become synonymous with airport trips.
Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has provided a glimpse into what international airport procedures might look like once we're traveling again, and a lot of disinfection technologies are involved.
The busy Asia airport claims it's the first in the world to trial a live operation of CLeanTech, a full-body disinfection booth.
The short, but thorough, process sees those passing through undertake a temperature check before entering a small booth for the 40-second disinfection and sanitizing procedures.
According to the airport authority, the inside of the facility contains an antimicrobial coating that can remotely kill any viruses and/or bacteria found on clothing, as well as the body, by using photocatalyst advances along with "nano needles."
Hong Kong International Airport is trialing CLeanTech, a full-body disinfection facility.
Courtesy Airport Authority Hong Kong
The individual is also sprinkled with sanitizing spray for "instant disinfection" inside the booth, which is kept under negative pressure, an isolation technique used in hospitals and medical centers, to prevent cross-contamination.
While CLeanTech is at present only being used on staff who undertake public health and quarantine duties for passenger arrivals, the fact that it's being trialed at one of the world's busiest airports suggests facilities like this may be used more widely in the near future.
However, it's worth noting that, as this system aims to disinfect a person's clothes and skin externally, it may not be effective when it comes to detecting those already infected with coronavirus who are not displaying any symptoms.
To help prevent person-to-person spread, many airlines are instructing people to wear masks.
Along with CLeanTech, the airport authority is also testing antimicrobial coating that will see an invisible coating which destroys all germs, bacteria and viruses being applied at all passenger facilities at Hong Kong International Airport.
This includes handles and seats, smart check-in kiosks and check-in counters, baggage trolleys and elevator buttons.
Once the trial is complete in May, a decision will be made on whether this measure will be implemented permanently.
Along with this, autonomous cleaning robots are being used to continuously disinfect public areas and passenger facilities at HKIA.
The Intelligent Sterilization Robot, which is kitted with ultraviolet light sterilizer and air sterilizer, maintains the public toilets, as well as crucial operating areas within the terminal building.
"The safety and well-being of airport staff and passengers are always our first priority," Steven Yiu, the airport authority's deputy director of service delivery said in a statement.
"Although air traffic has been impacted by the pandemic, the AA spares no effort in ensuring that the airport is a safe environment for all users.
"We will continue to look into new measures to enhance our cleaning and disinfection work."
HKIA is one of several aviation bodies to announce it's stepping up safety procedures due to the coronavirus crisis.
Last week, Italian designers Aviointeriors unveiled two new seat designs, Janus and Glassafe, that aim to keep a safe distance between passengers in economy class without compromising space on board the aircraft.
The company has confirmed to CNN that airlines are already showing interest in both designs and they're currently going through the engineering design steps.