Across the Middle East and elsewhere in the world, things are getting back to ‘business as usual’ as restrictions imposed during COVID-19 are being slowly eased. Airlines are gradually resuming operations and while people are looking forward to being able to fly again, there is hesitancy and concern around the health risks of air travel.
Boeing aims to address these concerns through its Confident Travel Initiative (CTI) where the company will work with stakeholders across the aviation industry’s eco-system to establish industry-recognised cleaning and disinfecting recommendations.
“Boeing is committed to the health of airline passengers and crew,” said Jim Haas, director product marketing, Boeing commercial airplanes.
“We’re working with partners to enhance aircraft cleanliness procedures and to develop common system-wide standards that will be key to a safe experience from curb side to airplane.”
Probably the most significant contributor is the air filtration system which incorporates High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters which are already present on all commercial airplanes that Boeing delivers and are similar to filters used in hospitals.
Haas explained that half of the cabin air is from outside the airplane and half is re-circulated from inside the cabin. Before re-circulated air is returned to the cabin, it passes through the HEPA filters which remove more than 99.9%+ of any particulate matter that may be present.
Air flows from the ceiling to floor, not front to back, which helps minimise particulates spreading throughout the cabin. This re-circulation happens approximately 20-30 times an hour, or once every two to three minutes.
Although HEPA has not yet been tested with the COVID 19 virus, according to Mayo Clinic, the average size of a COVID-19 particle is 0.12 – 0.125 microns, HEPA filters have been tested at these particle sizes and shown the efficiency to be more than 99.9+%.
Boeing is also evaluating promising research regarding ultraviolet disinfection that can be used safely and quickly to clean high-touch surfaces in airplane interiors such as ultraviolet light wands for disinfection, and using anti-microbial and anti-viral coatings on surfaces and high-touch points throughout the cabin.
Besides passenger airplanes, Boeing is working with airlines on the safe transportation of cargo in this new environment
As Boeing president and CEO David Calhoun said “As air travel slowly begins to increase and restrictions ease around the globe, the health and safety of flight crews and the flying public remains our top priority. This effort will help ensure flying is even safer in the future than it is today.”