Remember those khaki-clad blokes who would meet every incoming international flight? Your aircraft would land in Australia, taxi to the gate and you'd be told to sit tight. After a long delay, a bloke in shorts – two blokes if it was a jumbo – would march down the aisle with a can of aerosol insecticide in either hand directing the spray towards the overhead bins. Welcome to 'Straya! Doesn't happen these days, but that doesn't mean that those who are charged with ensuring Australia's biosecurity are asleep.
For more than a decade the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has allowed incoming aircraft to be sprayed under a new regimen. Airlines can elect to spray the internal surfaces of their aircraft with residual insecticide, provided this happens at regular intervals, no greater than eight weeks apart. Alternatively, an airline can spray the internal surfaces of an aircraft at the last overseas port before entering Australian airspace. In that case treatment takes place after catering has been loaded, with the air conditioning system switched off, with the overhead bins open and before passengers have boarded. Airlines must be certified by the Department of Agriculture and Water for either of these disinfection methods. If neither of those takes place, aircraft are required to be sprayed in the old-fashioned way. Expect the cabin crew to perform the task at some late stage in the flight, although it's the cabin crew doing the spraying, not the men in khaki.