How healthy it is to travel in the confined environment of an aircraft?

04/08/2020

Today, the outbreak of a global pandemic has brought with it a great deal of concern. We might see changes in the way we will travel for the foreseeable future. Our world may not be the same as it was half a century ago, but aviation will continue to play a key role.

During the pandemic, we counted on aviation for delivering vital air cargo services to boost global supply chains, evacuating stranded passengers, and enabling time-critical life-saving emergency and humanitarian response missions.

Clean air and cabin

The air in the cabin is renewed about every 2-3 minutes. It is a mix of fresh air drawn from outside and purified air from the cabin that has passed through extremely efficient filters. These are called High-Efficiency-Particulate Arrestors (HEPA) filters, which remove more than 99.9% of particles present in the air, down to the size of microscopic bacteria and virus clusters.

Air enters the cabin through vents near the overhead bins, travelling downwards before being removed via vents in the floor. This strong downwards flow prevents horizontal air movement within the cabin, reducing risk of cross-contamination between adjacent seat rows. The air is then either expelled from the aircraft or recirculated via the HEPA filters.

Airlines perform thorough cleaning and disinfection routines to create a hygienic environment for everyone on board. Specialised teams work with highly efficient approved products and disinfectants to conduct deep cleaning of aircraft cabins, lavatories and their surfaces, crew rest and galley working areas as well as the cockpit.

Additional solutions Airbus is testing for efficiency and feasibility

Fogging (also known as spraying or misting): Using a fogging machine to spray disinfectant liquid on aircraft surfaces
Thermal treatment: Heating the cabin between flights to a temperature much higher than usual ambient temperature
Ultraviolet (UV) light: Exposing aircraft surfaces to short-wave ultraviolet (UV-C) light

Airlive