Covid 19 and Air Travel Myths about the air inside an airliner: On all modern aircraft, passengers and crew breathe a mixture of fresh and recirculated air. Using this combination rather than fresh air only makes it easier to regulate temperature and helps maintain a bit of humidity. Studies have shown that a crowded airplane is no more germ-laden than other enclosed spaces—and usually less. Those underfloor filters are described by manufacturers as being of hospital quality.
On the 737 – 300 to 900 models the recirculation fan re-circulates filtered cabin air back to the cabin to reduce bleed air requirements. (Bleed air is compressed air taken from the compressor stage of a gas turbine upstream of its fuel-burning sections)
An airconditioning pack in HIGH flow, selected in the flight deck, will produce more cold air than normal, but has a 25% higher bleed air demand. Approximately 25% on the 737 of the cabin air is recirculated for passenger comfort compared to 50% on the 757/767 and none on the MD80.
The ventilation rate of the 737-300 is 1900 cubic feet per minute (CFM) or about 13 CFM per passenger. When the larger 737-400 was designed, an extra recirculation fan (also on the –4/8/900 models) was installed to increase the ventilation rate, and hence comfort levels, for the increased passenger capacity of the larger aircraft.
A good fact for everyone is on an airbus a320 series aircraft, it should be noted that it takes 4-5 mins for air in the cabin to be completely refreshed.
Here is why the risk of spreading Corona through cabin air is so low:
- The flow is from the ceiling to the floor
- The air flows laterally. There is no flow from front to back
- HEPA filters remove more than 99.9 percent of all particles from the recirculated air including viruses, bacteria and fungi.
- More protection is underway, including possibly the use of very short wave length UV light (222 nm). It kills germs immediately but does not penetrate into the human skin.
So the questions we ask in this uncertain time is:
Do you think having a middle seat unoccupied will help reduce the spread of the virus?
Will you be put off from flying until there is a vaccine?
This week, Stewart Wingate, chief executive of Gatwick Airport, said passengers should be required to carry ‘health passports’ to prove they are clear of the virus and wear face covers on flights. Travelers should have compulsory virus tests 48 hours before departure after lockdown is lifted, the head of Britain’s second busiest airport has said.
The proposals to get Britain’s skies moving again come as the Department for Transport considers proposals that would allow people to take their summer holidays.
Only the next few weeks and months will show what damage has been done to the Aviation Industry.