Defense Dept. Study: Aircraft Cabin is ‘One of the Safest Environments in the World’

By Anna Breuer on 15 October 2020
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United Airlines and the Department of Defense along with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, conducted a series of tests that studied the safety of commercial air travel and the risk of transmission of the coronavirus during flight.

The study was conducted over a period of six months on United Boeing 767 and 777 aircraft.  The parties conducted 300 tests over a total of 38 hours of flight time and 45 hours of ground testing.  Researchers released 180 million particles, an amount that the airline said is equivalent to what would be produced by thousands of passenger coughs, in the course of each test.

The study concluded that the fast onboard air recirculation typical of modern aircraft along with “downward designed” air ventilation and efficient HEPA filters made the cabin a safe environment.

“When a passenger is seated and wearing a face mask, only 0.003% of infected air particles could enter their [the passenger’s] breathing zone, even when every seat on the plane is occupied,” the airline said in a statement.

“The cabin of an aircraft is one of the safest environments in the world,”said Toby Enqvist, the airline’s chief customer officer, who added that a passenger’s “chances of Covid-exposure on a United aircraft are nearly non-existent, even if your flight is full.”

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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