AT THE HANGAR WITH BIG RICK
Business Aviation's Dirty Little Secret
Have you ever had that scratchy throat feeling while deboarding your flight? Is there really something to this common belief that–when you fly on a plane, you have a greater chance of getting sick? Are airplanes really nothing but a giant petri dish with wings? If this is true, what can be done to help prevent the flying public from getting sick every time they hop on a plane? Let’s take a closer look.
Germs are everywhere; let’s face it, they’re in your home, at your favorite restaurant, at the gym, and at your kids’ school. They live on you and in you: hands, mouth, nose, everywhere. Believe me, we took a few ATP samples (we’ll explain later) of some cell phones, and I wouldn’t use that phone if my life depended on it (it was my bosses). I won’t even mention when we thought it would be fun to swab someone’s nose. Oops.
So, what makes the germ population worse on an aircraft?
- Aircraft have a closed environment which leads to cross contamination.
- Planes are warm and dank while not in operation allowing bacteria growth.
- Aircraft turnaround times are short, leading to improper and hasty disinfection.
The germs are continuously recirculated, and you’re crammed next to people who may be already sick (insert eye-roll). Add the warmer temperature and moisture combination and the aircraft can be a giant incubator.
“But the airplane is cleaned during every turn-around,” you say? Exactly how long are the turn-around times on a commercial flight when you can practically high-five the departing passengers while coming down the jet bridge to board?
Before we go any deeper, here’s a quick explanation of the ATP test, what it tests for, and what the numbers mean. ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is an energy molecule found in all living cells that allows cellular metabolism to take place. All organic matter contains ATP, including blood, saliva and bacteria (yum!). So, the higher the number, the greater chance there are some nasty energy molecules in the sample.
Some of the ATP sample subjects are either harmless, or the body’s immune system can handle them and kick them to the curb. However, there are some nasty ones out there. If they get ahold of you, it could require a trip to the doctor and even hospitalization.
Just look at the list below: how many can you properly pronounce? Some of the most common ones are Strep, Staph, Salmonella, MRSA, mold and mildew, etc. Here’s a secret: after acquiring a Staph infection, which took months to recover, I became interested in this subject and how to prevent this from reoccurring.
You may be asking: What can be done about this?! Well, it’s always recommended to wash your hands frequently. Some travelers will even wear a mask. DO NOT lay your head down on the tray table in front of you, it usually has the highest ATP reading than any other part of the plane.
Then, along comes MicroShield 360. It’s an antimicrobial coating that is applied to the aircraft interior and provides a shield against all those pathogens we saw on the list above. I was certainly interested in learning more about this product as this could be the end all, be all solution to one of the biggest fears about flying: getting sick on the plane.
I needed to be convinced that this product works. With a background in electronics, I can grasp that there are definitely things happening that we can’t see, and, with the right tools, we can prove it. A Voltmeter will detect voltage on a battery: you can’t see the voltage, but it’s there for sure.
This is how it is supposed to work: MicroShield 360 is electrostatically applied using a sprayer, which turns the solution into a positively charged mist. The positive ions are attracted to the neutral/negative charges of the aircraft interior (think magnets here) and the mist wraps around all the surfaces.
Once the mist dries it will leave this positively charged coating with Nanoscopic swords. The positive polarity pulls the microbes into the swords, electrocuting them and piercing them at the same time!
That’s a pretty efficient germ killer, I would say. These are the claimed benefits over other methods:
- Does not sacrifice itself to kill the microbes: non-leaching.
- It’s permanent, unlike bleach-based cleaners that are only effective until they dry.
- It’s FDA approved and safe for all surfaces.
Now the big question: Does MicroShield 360 work?
I can say, without hesitation, that MicroShield 360 does work…and I have proof. We sprayed our first aircraft in March of 2018 and tested the numbers both before and after we applied the coating. No big deal, a bleach solution would have given us the same results. The real proof comes 10 months later, after the plane returned.
We tested for ATP upon the aircraft’s arrival, anxiously wondering if this stuff really does work. The results were astounding, they were almost identical as when we tested post application, 10 months prior. The invisible Nanoscopic swords had been doing their job for 10 months!
The stuff really works!!!!
Rick is a retired U.S. Navy chief with over 40 years of aviation experience. His passion for aviation took flight while serving on aircraft carriers in the Navy. Motorcycles are Big Rick’s other passion. While he’s always searching for the elusive 1958 Harley-Davidson Panhead, he’s the proud owner of a H-D CVO Road Glide and a Big Dog K9 Chopper. Every year, Rick and his veteran brothers burn rubber as they travel coast to coast in a long distance bike tour. CARE is proud to call Rick part of the family for 19 years and counting!