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CORRECTED-Boeing testing hand-held UV wand to sanitize cockpits, cabins

Eric M. Johnson

(Corrects name of person quoted in paragraph 5)

By Eric M. Johnson

SEATTLE, Aug 21 (Reuters) - Boeing Co said on Friday it is developing a hand-held wand that emits ultraviolet light to neutralize bacteria and viruses, part of a suite of methods to disinfect flight deck surfaces and controls, as well as surfaces throughout the cabin.

Concerns by airline workers and passengers about the spread of COVID-19 has fueled a rush by companies to roll out new technology for aircraft sanitization.

The wand would eliminate the need for using alcohol or other disinfectants that could damage sensitive electronic equipment, Rae Lutters, chief engineer for Boeing's ecoDemonstrator program, told a media briefing.

Boeing is looking at licensing the technology and hiring third-party companies in the fall to begin manufacturing the wands for commercial use, it said.

Boeing has been working on the technology with 13 different airlines. Kevin Callahan, a Boeing technical fellow leading testing of the wand prototype, cited "very strong interest" as carriers think about restoring confidence in flying as the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

Under heightened cleaning practices, many airlines have started using electrostatic disinfectants, which kill viruses on contact, as well as an anti-microbial spray that forms a coating for 30 days.

Boeing is also testing an anti-microbial coating for aircraft surfaces. (Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Additional reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Chicago; Editing by Tom Brown)