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Aircraft Cleaning Standards

Aircraft cleaning standards are regulatory requirements that civil aviation authorities (worldwide) impose on the airline operators to ensure the minimum level of cleanliness onboard. The purpose of cleaning standards in commercial aircraft is to ensure the health and safety of passengers and crew.

International Health Regulations

aircraft cleaning standards

Annexe 1 B 1 (d) of the IHR (2005) requires every airport specifically designated by a State to have or develop within a limited period the capacity to provide safe potable water supplies
for travellers using airport facilities. In accordance with Article 24 (c) of the IHR (2005), all States are required to take all practicable measures to ensure that international conveyance operators keep their conveyances free of sources of contamination and infection, which should include drinking water. However, it is the responsibility of each aircraft operator to ensure that no sources of infection and contamination are found on board.

World Health Organization (WHO) on Aircraft Cleaning Standards

Health and sanitation aspects of international traffic have been of concern to the World Health Organization (WHO) since 1951, when the Fourth World Health Assembly recommended that all governments should “improve sanitary and environmental conditions, especially in and around ports and airports” (resolution WHA4.80); at the same time, the need for “the sanitary protection of populations in mass movement” was also expressed (resolution WHA4.8l). Subsequent resolutions of both the World Health Assembly and the Executive Board emphasized the importance of maintaining high standards of hygiene and sanitation in international traffic (particularly in relation to the provision of safe water and food and the correct procedures for the collection and disposal of wastes). The annexe to the first report of the WHO Expert Committee on Hygiene and Sanitation in Aviation (WHO, 1960a) was published in 1960 as a Guide to Hygiene and Sanitation in Aviation (WHO, 1960b). Its use was recommended by the Twelfth World Health Assembly to guide health administrations in “fulfilling their obligations under the existing International Sanitary Regulations, especially the provisions of Article 14, in providing safe food for international air traffic, and in maintaining satisfactory control of, and protection from, malaria vectors at airports” (resolution WHA12.18).

The annexe to the first report of the WHO Expert Committee on Hygiene and Sanitation in Aviation (WHO, 1960a) was published in 1960 as a Guide to Hygiene and Sanitation in Aviation (WHO, 1960b). Its use was recommended by the Twelfth World Health Assembly to guide health administrations in “fulfilling their obligations under the existing International Sanitary Regulations, especially the provisions of Article 14, in providing safe food for international air traffic, and in maintaining satisfactory control of, and protection from, malaria vectors at airports” (resolution WHA12.18).

The reports of the Committee on International Surveillance of Communicable Diseases, as adopted by the World Health Assembly, also emphasized the importance of preventing disease through the improvement of sanitary conditions. The relevant articles of the International Health Regulations (1969) (WHO, 1969) laid down sanitation requirements at airports. The provision of criteria and guidelines for the use of administrations in fulfilling their obligations under the International Health Regulations forms an essential part of WHO’s functions.

In 1974, the Twenty-seventh World Health Assembly, “believing that, in view of the growth of international traffic, continuous attention should be given to the safety of food and water and the handling of wastes in such traffic”, stressed “the need for each Member State to clarify the ultimate responsibility for the safety of food and water and the proper handling of wastes in international traffic” and, furthermore, recommended that “Member States coordinate and ensure the close and active participation in such a responsibility of health authorities, port and airport management, aircraft operators, shipping companies, tourist associations, and any other service or agency concerned with international traffic” (resolution WHA27.46). At the same time, the Director-General of WHO was requested to maintain close contact with representatives of international organizations concerned with international traffic with a view to promoting the implementation and coordination of activities aimed at improving the safety of food and water and the handling of wastes and to prepare appropriate guidance for the use of health professionals. The outcome of these activities was the publication of a second edition of the Guide to Hygiene and Sanitation in Aviation, in 1977 (WHO, 1977).

The basic principles of hygiene have not changed significantly since 1977; however, the magnitude of air transport operations has grown tremendously. The number of passengers flying on scheduled airlines rose from 438 million in 1975 to over 2 billion in 2006 (ICAO, 2006), figures that do not take into account charter flight passengers and global corporation business jet passengers, whose numbers are in the millions and increasing every year. Furthermore, the current trend in international civil aviation is towards aircraft of larger passenger-carrying capacity and greater range. The introduction of air services to areas with inadequate public health infrastructures, such as food handling and storage, water supply and waste disposal, creates a challenge for aircraft operators. To protect public health, the application of high standards of hygiene should form an integral part of airport and aircraft operations.

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

The third edition of the Guide to Hygiene and Sanitation in Aviation (hereafter referred to as “the Guide”) addresses water, food, waste disposal, cleaning and disinfection of facilities, vector control and cargo safety, with the ultimate goal of assisting all types of airport and aircraft operators and all other responsible bodies in achieving high standards of hygiene and sanitation, to protect travellers and crews engaged in air transport. Each topic is addressed individually, with guidelines that provide procedures and quality specifications that are to be achieved.

Airlines are responsible for the food they serve on board aircraft, whether it is prepared in an airline-owned “flight kitchen” or obtained from an independently owned catering company. The steps involved—including food preparation, transport to the aircraft, storage and, finally, serving on the aircraft—need to be well coordinated in order to avoid contamination.

Routine cleaning and disinfection are also important aspects of aircraft and airport operations. In addition, aircraft disinfection procedures following transport of a suspected case of communicable disease are a particularly difficult issue that needs to be addressed by many stakeholders in a cooperative approach; not all effective disinfectants are suitable for use on board aircraft, as they may cause corrosion or other damage to the aircraft structure and contents, or their fumes may be noxious to inhale in an unventilated space. WHO, IATA, aircraft manufacturers and ICAO are the main organizations involved in determining a suitable disinfection process at the international level.

International Organizations for Aircraft Cleaning Standards

In addition to the responsibilities of the individual stakeholders (aircraft and airport operators, ground service providers, etc.), several international bodies, such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Airports Council International (ACI), play an important role in protecting the health of passengers and crew.

Aeronautical Radio, Inc. – Industry Activities (ARINC)

African Airlines Association (AFRAA)

African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC)

Agence pour la Sécurité de la Navigation Aérienne en Afrique et à Madagascar (ASECNA)

Airport Consultants Council (ACC)

Airports Council International (ACI)

Air Transport Association (ATA) of America, Inc.

Arab Air Carriers Organization (AACO)

Arab Civil Aviation Commission (ACAC)

Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA)

Association of European Airlines (AEA)

Civil Air Navigation Services Organisation (CANSO)

Comisión Latinoamericana de Aviación Civil (CLAC)

Corporación Centroamericana de Servicios de Navegación Aérea (COCESNA)

Civil Aviation Authority

European Association For Aviation Psychology (EAAP)

European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)

European Civil Aviation Conference (ECAC)

European Federation of Airline Dispatchers Associations (EUFALDA)

European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation (EUROCONTROL)

European Regions Airline Association (ERA)

European Union at the United Nations

Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI)

Flight Safety Foundation (FSF)

Helicopter Association International (HAI)

International Air Carrier Association (IACA)

International Air Transport Association (IATA)

International Association of Airport & Seaport Police (I.A.A.S.P.)

International Association of Airport Executives (IAAE)

International Business Aviation Council (IBAC)

International Committee for Airspace Standards and Calibration (ICASC)

International Council of Aircraft Owner and Pilot Associations (IAOPA)

International Federation of Air Line Dispatchers’ Associations (IFALDA)

International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations (IFALPA)

International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers’ Associations (IFATCA)

International Federation of Air Traffic Safety Electronics Associations (IFATSEA)

International Federation of Airworthiness (IFA)

International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA)

International Register of Civil Aircraft (IRCA)

International Society of Air Safety Investigators (ISASI)

International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF)

International Transportation Safety Association (ITSA)

Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC)

Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA)

Pacific Aviation Safety Office (PASO)

Royal Aeronautical Society

RTCA, Inc.

Service de l’information aéronautique (SIA)


United Nations – Official Web Site Locator for the United Nations System of Organizations

World Airlines Clubs Association (WACA)

World Freight Group (WFG)

National Level Cleaning Standards

Aircraft operators are involved at many levels in the chain of events that provide a hygienic and sanitary environment for air travellers and crew. For example, aircraft operators obtain potable water from numerous sources, and they have to ensure that each source provides drinking-water of acceptable quality. Water transfer is a key aspect of loading water onto the aircraft from the mains supply. The aircraft operator has the responsibility, in concert with the airport and relevant health authority, to ensure that proper transfer procedures are observed.

The safety of the potable water supply at the airport (including for provision to aircraft) is generally under the operational responsibility of the airport operator. The airport operator is generally subject to surveillance by the governmental authority responsible for regulating or licensing environmental health standards for facilities open for public use.


Ministry of Transport and Civil Aviation


Albanian Civil Aviation Authority (ACAA)


Établissement de Gestion de Services Aéroportuaires d’Alger (EGSA)

Établissement Nationale de la Navigation Aérienne (ENNA)


Instituto Nacional da Aviação Civil

Ministério do Transportes


Administración Nacional de Aviación Civil

Servicio Meteorológico Nacional


General Department of Civil Aviation


Airservices Australia

Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB)

Civil Aviation Safety Authority

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government

International Air Services Commission


Austro Control

Ministry of Transport, Innovation and Technology


Civil Aviation Administration


Civil Aviation Affairs


Civil Aviation Affairs


Bangladesh Meteorological Department

Civil Aviation Authority

Ministry of Civil Aviation and Tourism


Civil Aviation Authority


Service public fédéral Mobilité et Transports


The Bermuda Civil Aviation Authority (BCAA)


Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Department of Civil Aviation


Agência Nacional de Aviação Civil (ANAC)

Brazilian Civil Aviation Certification Division

Centro de Investigação e Prevenção de Acidentes Aeronáuticos (CENIPA)

Brunei Darussalam

Department of Civil Aviation


Civil Aviation Administration


Ministry of Public Works and Transport

State Secretariat of Civil Aviation (SSCA)


Civil Aviation Authority (CAA)


Canadian Transportation Agency

Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade

National Search and Rescue Secretariat


Transport Canada

Transportation Development Centre (TDC)

Transportation Safety Board of Canada


Cabo Verde

Agência de Aviação Civil (AAC)


Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil

Junta de Aeronáutica Civil


Air Traffic Management Bureau (ATMB), General Administration of Civil Aviation of China

Beijing – Civil Aviation Administration of China

Hong Kong – Civil Aviation Department


República de Colombia Aeronáutica Civil



Costa Rica

Dirección General de Aviación Civil

Côte d’Ivoire

Autorité Nationale de l’Aviation Civile


Croatian Civil Aviation Agency



Department of Civil Aviation of Cyprus

Czech Republic

Air Accidents Investigation Institute

Air Navigation Services

Civil Aviation Authority


Danish Transport and Construction Agency

Civil Aviation Administration

Dominican Republic

Instituto Dominicano de Aviación Civil


Dirección General de Aviación Civil del Ecuador


Ministry of Civil Aviation

El Salvador

Autoridad de Aviación Civil – El Salvador


Estonian Civil Aviation Administration


Civil Aviation Authority


Civil Aviation Authority


Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses pour la sécurité de l’aviation civile (BEA)

Direction générale de l’Aviation civile


Agence Nationale de l’Aviation Civile du Gabon


Gambia Civil Aviation Authority


Georgian Civil Aviation Authority


Air Navigation Services

Airport Coordination Federal Republic of Germany

Civil Aviation Authority

Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Investigation

Meteorological Service


Ghana Civil Aviation Authority


Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority

Hellenic National Meteorological Service

Ministry of Foreign Affairs


Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil



Transportation Safety Bureau


Aircraft Accident Investigation Board

Civil Aviation Administration


Airports Authority of India

Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS)

Directorate General of Civil Aviation


Directorate General of Civil Aviation

Iran (Islamic Republic of)​ ​

Civil Aviation Organization


Civil Aviation Authority


Irish Aviation Authority

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport

Israel​ ​

Ministry of Transport and Road Safety


Agenzia Nazionale della Sicurezza del Volo

Ente Nazionale per l’Aviazione Civile (ENAC)


Civil Aviation Authority


Civil Aviation Bureau. Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism


Civil Aviation Regulatory Commission (CARC) (formerly called “Jordan Civil Aviation Authority (JCAA)”)


Kenya Civil Aviation Authority


Directorate General of Civil Aviation


Civil Aviation Authority


Civil Aviation Agency


Directorate General of Civil Aviation


Libyan Civil Aviation Authority


Directorate of Civil Aviation


Direction de l’aviation civile


Civil Aviation Department


Department of Civil Aviation


Civil Aviation Department


Agence Nationale de l’Aviation Civile (ANAC) du Mali


Department of Civil Aviation


Department of Civil Aviation


Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes

Mongolia​ ​

Civil Aviation Authority


Civil Aviation Agency


Direction Générale de l’Aviation Civile


Civil Aviation Administration


Directorate of Civil Aviation (DCA Namibia)


Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal


Civil Aviation Security Department

Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management

The Dutch Safety Board

New Zealand

Airways Corporation of New Zealand

Aviation Security Service

Civil Aviation Authority

Ministry of Transport

Wellington Volcanic Ash Adivsory Centre (VAAC)


Instituto Nicaragüense de Aeronáutica Civíl


Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA)

Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Zaria


Civil Aviation Authority

​ ​Oman

Public Authority for Civil Aviation


Civil Aviation Authority


Autoridad Aeronáutica Civil – Panama

Papua New Guinea

Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Papua New Guinea (CASA)

PNG Accident Investigation Commission

Paraguay​ ​

Dirección Nacional de Aeronáutica Civil (DINAC)


Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil


Civil Aviation Authority


Civil Aviation Office

Polish Air Navigation Services Agency


Instituto Nacional de Aviação Civil

NAV Portugal, E.P.E.


Civil Aviation Authority

Republic of Korea

Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport

Republic of Moldova

Civil Aviation Administration


Romanian Civil Aeronautical Authority

Russian Federation

Ministry of Transport

San Marino

Autoritâ per l’Aviazione Civile e la Navigazione Marittima (CAA-MNA-SMR)

Saudi Arabia

General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA)


Center for investigation of accidents in transport of the Republic of Serbia

Civil Aviation Directorate


Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA)


Air Accident Investigation Bureau of Singapore

Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore

Singapore Aviation Academy


Civil Aviation Authority


Civil Aviation Authority

South Africa

Air Traffic and Navigation Services

Civil Aviation Authority


Aeropuertos Españoles y Navegación Aérea

Agencia Estatal de Meteorología

Agencia Estatal de Seguridad Aérea

Comisión de Investigación de Accidentes e Incidentes

Dirección General de Aviación Civil

Sri Lanka

Civil Aviation Authority


Civil Aviation Authority


Civil Aviation Department of Suriname


Swaziland Civil Aviation Authority


Swedish Transport Agency


Federal Office for Civil Aviation (FOCA)


Syrian Arab Republic

Syrian Civil Aviation Authority


Aeronautical Radio of Thailand Ltd. (AEROTHAI)

Civil Aviation Authority

 The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Civil Aviation Administration


Agence Nationale de l’Aviation Civile (ANAC) du Togo


Tonga Airports Limited (TAL)

Tonga Meteorological Services

Trinidad and Tobago

Civil Aviation Authority


Office de l’aviation civile et des aéroports


Directorate General of Civil Aviation


Civil Aviation Authority


State Aviation Administration

United Arab Emirates

Department of Civil Aviation

General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA)

United Kingdom

Air Accidents Investigation Branch

Air Safety Support International

CAA International Ltd

Civil Aviation Authority


United Republic of Tanzania

Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority (TCAA)

United States

Aviation Safety Reporting System (NASA ASRS)

Federal Aviation Administration

Homeland Security

National Transportation Safety Board

Satellite Navigation Product Teams, Federal Aviation Administration

Transportation Security Administration

U.S. Department of State, Office of Transportation policy


Dirección Nacional de Aviación Civil e Infraestructura Aeronáutica (DINACIA)


Instituto Nacional de Aviación Civil (INAC)

Viet Nam

Civil Aviation Authority of Viet Nam


Civil Aviation and Meteorological Authority (CAMA)


Department of Civil Aviation


Civil Aviation Authority

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