Ground Control to Major Tom……
As people begin to use airplanes again, some are turning to the idea of wearing hazmat suits, ideally onboard the aircraft. One startup has sold 50,000 units, but there are debates as to which airlines may let people wear them onboard.
Personal hazmat suits sold out fast
As face coverings are now compulsory on most flights, a startup has launched the BioVYZR, a personal hazmat suit for the price of $249 (€218), made possible through the crowdfunding platform, Indiegogo.
The suit comes down to just above the waist and is fitted with hospital-grade air-purifying technology. It adds five inches to a person’s height but only weighs three pounds. The windows are anti-fogging.
The company, VYZR Technologies, is a specialist in personal protective gear, having first launched a hands-free sun shade for use in desert climates. 50,000 units have been pre-ordered, to be delivered by the Toronto-based company by the end of July.
It is debatable as to whether airlines will allow them onboard, as there are fears over decompression and its size. And because the suit reduces the ability of its wearer to hear outside sounds, the suit would need to be removed to hear the safety announcements. A spokesperson for EasyJet told The Telegraph that it would be impossible to fit an air mask if there was decompression and Ryanair expressed concerns about the height and that they could impede a quick exit.
VYZR Technologies plans to launch a second batch soon, offering upgrades; a fan for circulation, a power bank and units in different colours. There is clearly demand; a YouGov poll taken on 14 July found that two thirds of Britons would not yet feel safe traveling on a flight.
However, regardless of whether the BioVYZR is allowed on flights, the company believes it has a strong future. Co-founder and CEO Yezin Al-Qaysi says that whilst air travel is one use, it is definitely not the main one. “We designed the BioVYZRs for frontline healthcare staff, essential workers and high-risk individuals. Our biggest customers are doctors, dentists, teachers, barbers, spas, etc. Air travel is definitely an important segment, but far from our largest segment.”
Al-Qaysi does believe that the BioVYZR could however, provide “peace of mind on long flights in tight spaces packed with hundreds of passengers.”
Some airline cabin crews have been wearing hazmat suits
In May, Qatar Airlines provided full PPE to its cabin crew, complete with hazmat bodysuit, safety goggles, gloves and a face mask, as reported in The Telegraph. The airline claimed to be the world’s largest operational airline during the pandemic, as it carried on flying to over 30 destinations.
Philippine Airlines and AirAsia have also rolled out new uniforms which incorporate PPE (personal protective equipment). The former have taken inspiration from hospital gowns, designed by Edwin Tan, while the latter, created by Puey Quinones, have included protective gear, calling it “the new normal”.