How Clean is the Air on Planes?July 14th, 2020 by Airedale Cooling
The Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 has meant that travel has been severely limited, but there is also concern that anyone who travels on aeroplanes will be subject to contaminated air due to plane air conditioning. Sat in a confined space for several hours at high altitudes means it’s easy to see why people might worry.
The quality of the air we breathe indoors has never been under so much scrutiny, so this month, we’ll dive into how the air you breathe on a plane is cleaned and what makes it safe to breathe.
How is the air cleaned on a plane?
There are two main ways you get clean air while sitting on an aeroplane. The first is through fresh air being pumped into the air conditioning system on the plane. This happens when air is pulled in by air intake portions on the wing of the aircraft. The fresh air is then brought into the aircraft and put through the air conditioning unit, making up roughly 50-60% of the air you breathe.
The second way you get clean air on an aeroplane is via filtered air. The air in the cabin is pumped out through the ceiling and taken down through grills – usually in the floor – to be passed through filters which remove airborne particles. The air is then pumped back to the air conditioning system which mixes the fresh air from outside with the filtered air.
How many filters does air pass through on a plane?
The number of filters the air passes through on a plane will likely vary between different aircraft models, but the key point is that particulate filters are in place for the sole purpose of removing particles and providing purified air.
Of course, the quality of the filter also matters, with older planes likely to have less effective filters than those fitted with the most modern filters.
Are there any risks with air on aeroplanes?
While as much clean air is pumped in and filtered for you as possible, the close quarters you keep with fellow passengers is the far greater risk when it comes to picking up sickness bugs and viruses like coronavirus. Social distancing is not something we’re used to when flying but might be something which airlines have to reassess in order to assure passengers about safety.
Safe distance between passengers, along with a very low risk of airborne transmission of a virus due to proper air filtration in the cabin, is why fears surrounding flying should be easily quelled.
Another minor issue which has come to light with aeroplane air which has caused controversy is called “fume events”, where the air drawn in through an engine on the wing is contaminated because of a fault with the seals in the engine. This is a rare occurrence requiring constant exposure to engine oil fumes, however, and has nothing to do with the air conditioning on flights.
At Airedale Cooling Services, we specialise in commercial air conditioning units for Bradford, Wakefield, York and the wider Yorkshire region. Our professional team of engineers can carry out installation and maintenance of HVAC systems, helping you to regulate temperatures in your building and keep purified air flowing.
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