JetBlue tests UV-blasting devices for disinfecting planes

NEW YORK -- One major airline is testing new technology to keep customers safe from coronavirus spread while flying.

JetBlue is trying out Honeywell's UV cabin system, devices that use UV light to disinfect its fleet of planes.

The Honeywell device looks sort of like a high-tech snack cart. But instead of delivering peanuts, its wings spread out, shining UV light over passenger seats, while other lights zero in on overhead compartments.

Its operator stands behind a UV light shield. The light is very powerful and can be dangerous, so the cabin must be empty before use.

Joanna Geraghty, JetBlue's president and COO, spoke exclusively to "Good Morning America" and detailed how the new plan will work.

"We've got a team from Honeywell here, and we've got a JetBlue team, and we'll be looking at the effectiveness of the application ... whether or not the coronavirus has been killed," she said. "So we do think UV technology has a tremendous application, similar to what's been used in hospitals."

Mike Madsen, the president and CEO of Honeywell Aerospace, said the cabin system can disinfect a plane in less than 10 minutes.

"This is technology that's been used in hospitals for many years demonstrated to be over 90% effective on all kinds of pathogens so not just viruses, bacteria," he said.

JetBlue said the technology won't be limited to its planes. The airline has already tested UV light technology at its self-check-in kiosks.

Still, ABC News Medical Contributor Dr. Jay Bhatt said UV light is no substitute for proper disinfection and cleaning.

"I believe in it. I think it can work. But I think it just needs to be done in a smart way and in a way to keep people safe," he said.

That's why Geraghty said testing is critical.

"So if this is something that's effective, it's something we would absolutely consider using longer term," she said.
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