Amid increased concerns over the rapidly spreading novel coronavirus, aircraft operators have expressed increased interest in technology that safely and effectively purifies air during flight. Duncan Aviation reacted to the market interest by educating customers about the ACA (Aviation Clean Air) purifying component, which has been on the market for several years and which we first installed last year in a Gulfstream aircraft. The ionizer is adept at continuously neutralizing a range of pathogens—viruses, bacteria, and fungi—as well as unpleasant odors both in the air and on surfaces throughout the aircraft.
After using the STC (Supplemental Type Certificate) developed by ACA for the Gulfstream installation, Duncan Aviation’s Engineering and Certification Services Team began working on an STC to install the ACA system in Bombardier Global Express aircraft. That STC is scheduled for completion early this fall. The team is also working with ACA and exploring certifications for installing the powerful devices in other aircraft makes and models.
Ionizers work by emitting charged particles that attach themselves to pathogens, destabilizing and then deactivating them.
“If you want to kill a virus, you have to destabilize it,” says Epidemiologist Dr. Rachel Sippy from SUNY Upstate Medical University and the University of Florida. “A charged ion damages the virus’ envelope so the genome is exposed, deactivating the virus.”
The ACA system includes multiple ionizing components that are installed in an aircraft’s existing environmental control system. The bi-polarizing units emit electrically charged molecules, which are harmless and naturally present at all times in our environment. These molecules attach themselves to pathogens in the air and on surfaces throughout the aircraft, as well as in the air handling system itself. Unlike a one-time chemical treatment, the ACA unit provides continuous treatment of the air and aircraft surfaces when running.
ACA’s independent testing has found the system effective against viral, bacterial, and fungal pathogens such as those that cause the common cold, flu (swine, avian, etc.), MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), C. diff (clostridium difficile), E. coli (Escherichia coli), pneumonia, polio, and mold. In May, an independent test by Innovative BioAnalysis found the ACA ionizer effective against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
In addition to pathogens, the ACA component also neutralizes potentially harmful gasses caused by fuel emissions, other VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds), and offensive odors caused by cooking or cleaning, cigarette and cigar smoke, stagnant air, and lavatories. Pet odors are also neutralized. The system will also reduce static electricity caused by the low relative humidity of cabin air.
Depending on the aircraft type, two or three ionization units are installed on the two main cabin air distribution ducts. The components are housed in a black anodized aluminum box and weigh 1.34 pounds (607 grams) each. The electrical system that powers the ionizers to work in conjuction with the current environmental system is also installed.
“We’ve all heard of the SARS and MERS viruses and drug-resistant bacteria, and now we can add COVID-19 to the list of dangerous pathogens in the world. Avoiding them mostly meant washing our hands often and thoroughly,” says Michael Kussatz, Avoinics Regional Sales in the Eastern US. “After doing some research, we found that the ACA ionization system gives pilots and passengers a space where there is a very natural process going on that is deactivating these pathogens, rendering them harmless, as they travel in comfort.”
Because installations are often completed in less than two weeks, Duncan Aviation can install the ACA air ionizer as a stand-alone event or part of a scheduled-maintenance event at our main MRO facilities or at many of our 28 Satellite Shops or workaway stations around the country.
For more information about the ACA air purification system and how it works, watch the Duncan Aviation Straight Talk webinar, “Sorting Through The Facts Of COVID-19 & Ionization Systems,” featuring Dr. Sippy.