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  • Ladi

United Airlines to Turn on Ventilation System During Boarding and Deplaning

Updated: Feb 6, 2023

Lately I've come across a lot of articles about the risk of contracting Corona virus in an aircraft if someone sitting in your proximity has the virus. We have certainly all heard people complain about contracting colds on planes and blaming it on the re-circulation of air on an aircraft, so I think many tend to accept it as a fact that sitting in a metal tube with strangers significantly increases the risk of contracting a virus.

I recently read an announcement by United Airlines that referenced its ventilation systems on its aircraft that, I must say, did ease my concern somewhat about flying during the pandemic. Here is a link to the announcement: "United Airlines to Maximize Ventilation System During Board and Deplaning."

The announcement generally relates to the fact that United has announced that it will now turn on its ventilation system during boarding and deplaning, rather than only operating the ventilation system while the aircraft is in motion. However, the announcement also speaks to the ventilation systems on United's mainline aircraft. Notable points from the article are:

  • Their aircraft contain high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration systems

  • The aircraft's HEPA filters, in combination with an aircraft's air conditioning and pressurization system recirculates the air every 2-3 minutes and removes 99.97% of particles (including viruses and bacteria);

  • The air onboard an aircraft is cleaner than what you might experience in restaurants and grocery stores.

  • All of the air in the aircraft is replaced every 2-3 minutes with 50% of the air being HEPA filtered and 50% being outside air.

The article also contains a link to a animation showing how the air circulates and is cleaned on United's aircraft, which is located here.

I have to say, I was impressed with the claims made by United in regards to their aircraft ventilation systems. That being said, I'm no epidemiologist, so I have no idea whether there is a heightened risk of contracting a virus on a commercial aircraft as compared to, say, a grocery store or a restaurant. United is undertaking a study to assess how effective airflow on an aircraft can be to prevent the spread of aerosolized particles. The outcome of that study will be quite interesting, so let's hope we eventually see a public release of that information.

I think it's a good move for United to operate the ventilation system during boarding and deplaning. One wonders whether this might become the new standard.

How do you feel about travelling by plane during the pandemic? Are you satisfied with the efforts being made by airlines to protect your health? Let us know in the comments below.

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