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19 | Safer in an airplane than outside, according to aircraft manufacturers

There is no more risk of seeing COVID-19 within an inch of an aircraft carrier on an airplane than if you were more than two meters away from him or her. jointly claimed the three largest commercial aircraft manufacturers in the world, Airbus, Boeing and Embraer on Thursday.

Posted Oct 9, 2020 at 11:00 am

Jean-François Codère
La Presse

According to tests conducted by Embraer, barely 0.13% of the volume of air expelled by a passenger coughing is likely to enter the area of ​​air inhaled by another passenger on board an aircraft, even without mask. When wearing a mask, the percentage drops to 0.02%.

"The design of the cabin and ventilation system creates the equivalent of more than 2 meters of physical distance between each passenger," said Boeing for his part, at the end of his own investigations, while taking the mask for granted.

As for Airbus, it calculates that of 10,000 droplets ejected by a passenger with a cough, barely 5 will find their way into the neighboring passenger's breathing system, even if only a foot away. , provided they both wear masks.

Outside an airplane, the same passenger would absorb 10 drops, according to Airbus, double that if he were two meters from the cough, the distance generally considered safe without a mask.


An overview of computer simulations performed by Airbus to assess the risks of COVID-19 spreading in one of its aircraft.

These three studies were presented simultaneously at a press conference organized Thursday by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which brings together the largest airlines in the world.

They are based on extensive studies, in particular based on computer simulations of air circulation and "real" tests, virus free of course. This kind of computer simulation is common for the three aircraft manufacturers, who strive to optimize airflow during design to ensure quality, reduce noise and increase comfort, explained Embraer's engineering senior vice president , Technology and Strategy, Luis Carlos Affonso.

Less dangerous than lightning

IATA also conducted an investigation based on the results of thousands of thefts that have occurred since the start of the pandemic. According to her, there were only 44 cases of infection on board an aircraft, out of 1.2 billion passengers, or 1 in every 27.3 million passengers.

According to her, this is less than the risk of being struck by lightning.

The first signs of the apparent safety of airplane flights had appeared in the spring. The reasons given were the same as in the studies presented Thursday: up to four times more frequent renewal of the air mass than in a normal building, powerful filters, air circulation from top to bottom, physical barrier created. by chairs, etc.

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