Gatwick is the first UK airport to treat its security trays with enough UV light energy to guarantee a 99.9% microbe disinfection rate – protecting passengers and staff and reducing the spread of coronaviruses, including COVID-19, and other infections on this high-touch surface area.
The new, highly-effective system – provided by Smiths Detection – sees each tray pass through a covered ‘UV-tunnel’ fixed underneath the hand baggage screening system, as trays exit the scanners, so that every tray is treated immediately before each passenger uses it.
Following a one-month trial on a single security lane in July 2020, with laboratory testing demonstrating a 99.9% microbe disinfection rate, the new system is being rolled out on eight lanes in Gatwick’s North Terminal – six for passengers and two for staff – in September 2020.
The system uses short-wavelength UV-C light, which laboratory tests show is effective against coronaviruses, including COVID-19 and SARS, as the radiation warps the structure of their genetic material and prevents the viral particles from replicating.
The UV-C light is completely contained within a covered unit, which is designed to ensure no risk of exposure to either passengers or staff.
Gatwick and other airports have already deployed other anti-viral systems, such as coatings sprayed on to trays; however, this protection dissipates over time, whereas this new system treats every tray just before use – ensuring maximum protection and a reduced risk of passing on infection.
Other health measures in place at Gatwick include the frequent, enhanced deep cleaning of common-use surfaces throughout the airport, installation of approximately 500 Perspex screens, social distancing procedures at check-in, security and gate rooms, well-spaced seating in departure halls and in restaurants, bars and shops, and regularly signposted hand washing facilities plus around 200 sanitising stations.
All passengers are also advised to bring and wear their own face covering throughout the airport and to check Gatwick’s latest online health guidance before leaving home.
“The health and wellbeing of our passengers and staff remains our priority,” says Adrian Witherow, Chief Operating Officer, Gatwick Airport. “The system goes above and beyond the guidelines and we will continue to do everything we can to help reassure our passengers that flying is still a great travelling experience and that the health measures we have in place are effective and easy to follow. This new system has proven itself to be extremely reliable and provides a really high degree of reassurance as every single passenger and staff member using the system will have a tray that has only just been disinfected. As an airport, we will continue to explore innovative health solutions like this that reduce the spread of coronaviruses and other infections.”
Richard Thompson, Global Director of Aviation, Smiths Detection, adds: “We’ve partnered with Gatwick Airport on a number of security projects over the years, bringing them cutting-edge screening technology and greater operational efficiency. The introduction of the UV-C kits demonstrates their interest in ensuring the highest standard of care for their customers and team members in response to COVID-19. The technology deployed by Smiths Detection will not only help to create a healthy airport, but is also completely safe to use and will not slow down the security screening process.”