How COVID-19 safe are planes?

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

On the assumption that when lockdowns, circuit-breaks and firebreaks and whatever else politicians call tem are over and we can fly again, the questions is whether we will.

has air filtration on airlines been independently tested?

How comfortable would you be sitting on an aircraft for two, four, eight or even twenty-four hours?

Regaining the confidence of airline passengers is a major priority of airlines and airports, tour operators and travel agencies. Without that confidence there is little business.

Will the recently announced news item from the US Department of Defense help? It found after testing that 99.99% of particles released into the air from an infected person wearing a mask were removed from the airplane cabin within six minutes of being released.

According to the same study, planes filter air faster than an average home or even an operating theatre in a hospital. In contrast, the department says that it takes about 90 minutes to clear the particles from your own home. In the study, droplets reduced by 99% by the time they reached the next passenger’s seat and became barely measurable when reaching seats a few rows away.

According to the part of the department that carried out the study “the calculations show about 54 flight hours are required for cumulative inhalation of an assumed infectious dose.”

That the tests were carried out on mannequins that were placed on plane seats throughout the planes in two different types of Boeing aircraft and hooked up to monitoring systems is immaterial because even if humans react slightly differently, the contagion rate would still seem to be very low.

This result is more encouraging than the recent IATA calculations which also suggested that the chances of catching COVID-19 from a flight were very low.

But one of the scientists involved in the data quoted by IATA is claiming the mathematical calculations used by IATA are dubious according to a report carried by Reuters. The medical advisor to IATA went ahead and quoted the figures

But at the same time if you look at the NSW Department of Health site in Australia and see its list of flights just into Sydney with confirmed cases up until the beginning of August this year, you will see that the list is very much longer than the one IATA shows which is supposedly world-wide.

Cases found on a plane don’t nake up the whole story for how many people were infected later on by the person that was on the plane?

Passengers may need independent evidence, that is evidence produced by non-aviation linked parties before there is sufficient confidence to fly in mass numbers again.

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