Airline update: How safe is the air in aeroplanes?

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Are you nervous about the thoughts of recirculating air spreading coronavirus on your next flight?

A new study from the US Department of Defense suggests that the ventilation systems on commercial aircraft efficiently remove the particles that could transmit the virus.

The US Transportation Command released the results from its aerosol dispersion test, which showed that the overall exposure risk from pathogens such as the coronavirus was low.

The test used Boeing 777-200 and 767-300 aircraft and simulated a fully loaded passenger flight, while a dummy wearing a surgical mask coughed aerosols to replicate a passenger with a respiratory virus.

More than 300 aerosol releases were performed over eight days and involved in-flight, simulated in-flight and on-the-ground testing, explained Dee Mewbourne from the US Transport Command.

“Within the scope of the test, the results showed an overall low exposure risk from aerosolised pathogens like COVID-19 on these aircraft.” 

Mannequins with and without face masks sat in various seats on the aircraft while fluorescent tracer particles were released at intervals of two seconds to simulate breathing for a minute during ground and in-flight tests.

Real-time fluorescent particle sensors were placed throughout the aircraft at the breathing zone of passengers to measure concentration over time. 

The test revealed that the released aerosol was rapidly diluted by the high air exchange rates observed in the air frames. 

The particles only remained detectable within the cabin for an average of less than six minutes. To put that in perspective, it would usually take 90 minutes to clear these particles from the air inside the average home.

According to the findings, the high air exchange coupled with high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration of all recirculated air, means a commercial aircraft’s air supply system provides protection greater than the design standards for a patient isolation room or a hospital operating room.

Do these results make you feel more comfortable about air travel?

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Written by Ben

17 Comments

Total Comments: 17
  1. 0
    0

    If this is the case why have travellers contracted other viruses whilst travelling with infected people?

  2. 0
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    Plane travel has always been notorious for passenger infection of colds, influenza, various viruses.

  3. 0
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    I always look at the sources of studies making claims like this. After all, there IS a a lot of bullshit around these days.

    This source seems like a good one. Maybe I can trust it.

    • 0
      0

      ‘”Mannequins with and without face masks sat in various seats on the aircraft while fluorescent tracer particles were released at intervals of two seconds to simulate breathing for a minute during ground and in-flight tests.”

      Never met a mannequin which could breathe.When they do a test with humans it might be m ore believable but you go for it and let us know the results.

    • 0
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      Weird. You trust you own , relatives’ and friends’ unscientific, anecdotal evidence, but won’t accept an attempt at real science. It’s no wonder the world is in trouble these days.

    • 0
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      It is not anecdotal. There is no need to start the personal insults. Grow up.

  4. 0
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    So how many people were breathing This in during the 6 minutes it travelled around the plane ?

    • 0
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      “Real-time fluorescent particle sensors were placed throughout the aircraft at the breathing zone of passengers to measure concentration over time. ”

      Looks like an attempt at real science there.

  5. 0
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    Until people who are sick stay off planes we will get sick too
    It has to be made easier to travel or short long distances when a person gets better.
    My whole holiday was ruined by a flue infected woman on a domestic flight to my international port sitting next to me totally ruined my trip in South Africa.

  6. 0
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    Winston Smith .. no I do not want to be a passenger on any airplane for quite a while.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oajupDk-kLc&ab_channel=TheSun
    This link is a good reason why. It is horrid and selfish, narcisstic passengers that I refuse to be locked inside a sardine can with.

  7. 0
    0

    Definitely DOESN’T make me feel more comfortable- what a joke, don’t believe a word of it. My sister nearly died after contracting InfluenzaA on an aeroplane!!


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