Nowadays, the globe is undergoing extraordinary conditions-ones that were never experienced before! These conditions are especially tough on the aviation and airlines industry; but with travel demand increasing day by day and as countries loosen restrictions, airlines and airplane manufacturers are mounting a major push to build confidence among travellers.
It can’t be denied that air travel was one of the main reasons of the huge spread of the Coronavirus (COVID19). Therefore, the first question that comes to anyone’s mind before booking a flight is: “Is it safe to fly an airplane now?”
But have you asked yourself before: “How clean is the air on a plane”. Today we will be explaining how cabin air is filtered and recirculated.
The outside air firstly enters through the engine turbines and is compressed heating it. It then passes through cooling packs located below the cabin. These packs help in regulating the temperature of the compressed air.
Meanwhile, air from the cabin travels to the same area to pass through filters called HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filters. These filters, also used in hospitals, are capable of removing at least 99.9% of particles like bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
The two air sources are then infused 50-50 through an air-mixing unit and circulated back to the cabin.
The mixed air then enters the cabin through overhead vents and moves in downward in a circular motion. A portion will be recirculated, while most leaves the cabin through floor vents. About half of the exited cabin air is dumped outside, while the rest is sent back to the HEPA filters to mix again with the fresh outside air.
A cabin’s air volume gets refreshed over the course of two to three minutes. There is a debate in the scientific community over how effective aircraft ventilation may be on large virus-containing droplets like a sneeze or a cough.
So, is it safe to fly an airplane?
Airplane cabins are heavily ventilated; and robust airflow, mixed with fresh air, seems to lessen the spread of the virus that causes COVID19. Taken to its extreme, it’s the same idea that outdoors, with ample airflow and fresh air, is safer than indoors.
Airlines and airplane manufacturers are claiming that brisk ventilation, the filtering of air and an infusion of outside air, makes the cabin’s air safer from the virus than many other indoor public settings.
On the other hand, some public health experts suggest that the risks are greater: Airflow and filtering may not help if someone next to you coughs or sneezes on you. And there’s no getting around the fact that people are packed closer together on airplanes than just about any other public setting.