Coronavirus: Air in the air is filtered, purified and sterile 99.97%

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Given that we are in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic, many readers and friends have asked us how safe it is to fly with the plane in the current context and what happens to the air in the plane. Specialists are just discovering the new COVID-19 and it is difficult to say exactly how long it remains in the air, on objects, to the touch. There are studies done, but there is no certainty.

As there is no 100% sterile air. But the air in the plane is filtered and 99.97% sterile. According to the studies of the European Aviation Safety Agency, the air in the aircraft is changed every 2-3 minutes, and the filters it passes through are capable of eliminating the coronavirus itself.

Air in the aircraft is filtered and sterile 99.97%

The main question nowadays, at the time of the emergence of a global virus, is whether we can fly safely or whether there is a high chance of becoming infected while on board? With flights between China and the rest of the world, many have turned their attention to the aircraft cabin, especially the air that passengers breathe, sometimes even up to 17-18 hours (on intercontinental flights).

air filtration and air purification

IATA, the international association that brings together more than 300 airlines from around the world, confirms that, in reality, the air on board is very clean. There is two EASA studies from 2017. These documents claim that the air in the cabin is qualitatively similar or even better than that normally found in indoor environments, such as offices, schools and homes. 

The aircraft system is designed to circulate air, 50% being taken from the outside and 50% being filtered internally. In some cases, such as the Boeing 717, the air is taken entirely from the outside and adapted to be breathed inside.

The air in airplanes is 99.97% sterile. Aircraft, especially the latest generation, have efficient and modern filters, called HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air). They are identical to those of hospitals and therefore manage to capture and block up to 99,97% of the microbes - bacteria and viruses - present (figures estimated by IATA). Including Airbus A320 and Wizz Air aircraft Boeing 737 Blue Air with HEPA filter.

A percentage that some companies confirm on board their aircraft amounts to 99,999%, thus stopping small viruses of even 0,01 microns in diameter, while the size of the coronavirus is between 0,08 and 0,16 microns. 

Aircraft cleaning and sanitation

It is important to understand that air filters in aircraft are capable of dealing with very small particles. It is wrong to assume that airplanes are a place where viruses spread freely and without restriction.

At the same time, the air in the plane is refreshed every 2-3 minutes so that the passengers can breathe fresh, filtered and sterile air at all times. Airbus confirms that the A350 changes all the air in the cabin every 2-3 minutes; similar periods are also recorded on the Boeing 787. And in addition to air filtration, the airplanes have a part of hygiene, disinfectione and periodic sterilization. All the more so in this period.

The cockpit is an enclosed space where there is close contact with other passengers. Almost all are foreigners and their history is obviously unknown. Therefore, even the slightest sneeze or cough worries everyone around. We also have a concrete example in Romania. A TAROM plane canceled takeoff after a passenger started coughing. It is natural to prevent, there is nothing to condemn.

But the plane itself does not spread viruses and bacteria. Air in the plane does not transmit disease from one passenger to another over longer distances. Obviously, a passenger, who has a contagious disease, can infect several passengers around him, a narrow perimeter. Or it depends on who you come in contact with during the trip.

In conclusion, no one can guarantee 100%!


  1. Napau Ioan says

    When do you think flights from Liverpool to Cluj Napoca will resume?

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