The Planes are Safe, It's the People Who Aren't

Mish

Airplane circulations filters effectively handle Covid-19. That's not the problem.

Leeham writer Bjorn Fehrm has said that the aircraft recirculation system is effective in controlling spread of virus. Here is part 1 of a multi-part series.

In part 9, Fehrm says the HEPA filters in the cabin return path are hospital-grade and remove 99.9% of the viruses.

Fehrm also comments on the need to stay hydrated because the recirculated air is very dry.

Today Leeham has a different take, but not about the recirculation system. itself.

Why I Won't be Flying Soon

Please consider Pontifications: Why I Won't be Flying Soon by Scott Hamilton.

Some airlines block center seats. Others abandoned the practice recently or didn’t do so from the start. (When flights were operating 10% full, blocking seats didn’t matter.)

Blocking center seats really is cosmetic. Social distancing guidelines call for six feet between you and the next person. Blocking a center seat provides about 18 inches wide and 29-30 inches fore-and-aft.

The problem is not the airplane. It’s the people who fly. Passengers flying without masks put everyone at risk in those 2-4 minutes, as well as during enplaning and deplaning.

And most airlines aren’t enforcing a mask policy. The federal government won’t issue a rule requiring masks. Containing the virus requires passenger cooperation. It’s not there yet.

User's Guide To Masks

NPR has User's Guide To Masks that some may be interested in.

Mish

Comments (26)
Casual_Observer
Casual_Observer

Airplanes and boats are incubators for airborne viruses. For a plane the longer the flight the dirtier the air becomes. You can wear masks and everything but if covid truly is airborne then it doesnt matter. It will penetrate the mask quickly.

Anda
Anda

Glad I am not flying, aircraft are crammed nowadays and you add wearing a mask it must feel even worse. Should be mandated by the airline I suppose though. In the replies in the link someone gives a tandofline link to a study that says airflow is in many directions in the aircraft, and personally I see masks only being part effective in that circumstance, where you are sat for an hour or more with that airflow, especially if the virus travels without droplets as has been suggested recently. Then there is using the rest room, people walking right next to you, how well the plane is disinfected from previous flight, etc. etc. etc. I guess air travel is just going to be due to nescessity, and for those those who are not fearful of catching the virus.

njbr
njbr

Not really safe....measles transmission up to 17 rows from sick person.

Given the rarity of measles and unvaccinated person on the same flight--it's pretty clear that in flight virus transmission occurs (17 rows wast the longest distance, median was 6 rows). The filters may be good, but air disturbance from people and people moving about and all of those jets of air blasting virus from one person to another (picture a water hose--the higher the velocity of water the further the water splashes...), transmission can and will occur.

Now picture a super-spreader with the diarrhea phase going back and forth to the toilet on the plane. A perfect storm of virus spreading.

njbr
njbr

Trumpists receive their marching orders--"just live with it". It can't get too bad, can it?

...White House officials also hope Americans will grow numb to the escalating death toll and learn to accept tens of thousands of new cases a day, according to three people familiar with the White House’s thinking, who requested anonymity to reveal internal deliberations. Americans will “live with the virus being a threat,” in the words of one of those people, a senior administration official....

...The goal is to convince Americans that they can live with the virus — that schools should reopen, professional sports should return, a vaccine is likely to arrive by the end of the year and the economy will continue to improve....

Jojo
Jojo

"Fehrm also comments on the need to stay hydrated because the recirculated air is very dry."

I've been reading this for seems like decades. So why doesn't someone finally attach a damn humidifier to airplane air rec-circulation? This wouldn't require a huge store of heavy water, so can't imagine that as a block.

So is it just the usual airline refusal to spend any additional money when they haven't been ordered to do so? If so, then the FAA needs to make this a requirement.

TonGut
TonGut

Recirculation filters are the emphasis here, but what’s also important is that the air in the cabin is exchanged with outside air about 20 to 30 times an hour during flight, an exchange rate that is to hospital standards. This is inherent because much of the cabin air does not even recirculate but instead gets exhausted out into the atmosphere through outflow valves at the front and/or rear bulkhead, being continuously replaced by fresh air from outside, which is bled off of the engine compressor after is was sucked into the front of the engine. Modulation of these outflow valves is what regulates the cabin pressure.

So an aircraft cabin in flight is probably the safest confined space you can be in. Getting in and out of it is the risky part.

WildBull
WildBull

Air tends to flow from front to back through the cabin before it gets sucked back into a filter. Air travel is famous for spreading the flu, can Covid-19 be much different?

ReadyKilowatt
ReadyKilowatt

"Because of the high output the pressurization system is capable of, the volume of air in a modern airliner cabin is constantly exchanged at a rate of approximately every two to three minutes. This means that every two to three minutes, the air in the cabin has circulated in and out and fresh air has taken its place. "


Global Economics

FEATURED
COMMUNITY