Airbus demonstrates why there is no need for distance on the plane and how safe it is to fly during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Aircraft filtration systems ensure the highest level of cabin air quality. Passengers and crew can be confident that an aircraft cabin is one of the safest environments during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A new study by Airbus shows that when all passengers and crew wear masks, there is a very small probability of particles spreading in the breathing area of ​​the passenger. What does that mean, more clearly? It means that there is a very low risk of transmitting the virus in the cockpit.

About flight safety in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic I've written before. And I'm not talking about the physical safety of the flight here, I'm talking about the epidemiological safety.

Airbus demonstrates why there is no need for distance on the plane

And now let's detail the study done by Airbus. Thanks to a 3D computer simulation, Airbus experts were able to understand the potential propagation of particles (which occurs when drops and aerosols are expelled by breathing, coughing, sneezing or talking) from a passenger.

The methodology for this simulation is rigorous. Bon Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), the study analyzes 50 million points inside the cabin and calculates a variety of parameters, such as air speed, direction and temperature for each of these points 1.000 times per second. 

Another notable conclusion drawn from the study was that significantly fewer particles emitted by a passenger in an aircraft cabin have reached the breathing area of ​​other passengers, compared to particles emitted in an enclosed commercial space. It has also been shown that there is no increased exposure to particles when passengers are seated next to each other.

Visible and invisible barriers that allow for physical distance on board

Airbus Keep-Trust-in Air-Travel-droplet-study-infographic-horizontal

Other interesting discoveries are visible and invisible barriers which practically allow physical distance on board. These invisible barriers are created by the already high cabin air exchange rate, top-down airflow type, high-efficiency particulate matter (HEPA) filtration, combined with front-facing seats and high backrests. 

It has been shown that 30cm of physical distance on board an aircraft this equivalent to 1,8m outside the aircraft, which is more than 1 meter recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Therefore, even when someone is coughing or sneezing and even when all the seats (including the middle seat) are occupied, the passengers are essentially at a distance that protects them from the particles of those around them.. In conclusion, even if the aircraft is occupied at full capacity, the passengers have ensured the necessary distance.

Complex simulations of this nature are normal practice at Airbus. To optimize the cabin airflow model and to ensure the thermal comfort, health and safety of passengers and crew, CFD modeling studies are continuously conducted to analyze cleanliness and airflow.

For decades, Airbus has used the best technologies and innovations to create a cabin environment in which passengers and crew can breathe fresh air on board. 

These recent studies state the overall soundness of Airbus' cabin ventilation and air filter architecture and confirm previous assessments that the risk of transmitting the virus to the aircraft cabin is very unlikely. 

In short, the air in the plane is clean, and passengers can trust to safely share the cabin space with the other participants in the flight.

  1. Alexandru says

    How true!
    I traveled last week with a wizz air, some time after takeoff, they came with the table, to serve on the plane, and the vast majority ordered, and the same people took off their masks and you could hear the one next to you or from behind, how he drowns and starts coughing!
    I don't know how safe you are, when on the plane most of the passengers are left without masks on their faces at some point

    1. Sorin Rusi says

      Even if they cough, as the study says, it is unlikely that the particles emitted by them will reach in front or behind them… and even less to the left or right. Air curtains vacuum aerosols and particles… Air circulates vertically in aircraft.

      At the same time, the study shows how maximum safety can be achieved in aircraft. But it also depends on the airlines how they implement these measures.

      It is mostly recommended to travel minimally in airplanes just so as not to endanger the invisible protective curtains.

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