Air quality: Emirates’ airplanes can filter 99.97% of viruses on board

Emirates filter in aircrafts
Emirates airline has equipped all its aircraft with advanced High-Efficiency Particle Filters to filter out 99.97 per cent of viruses on board.
Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Air quality is one of the top priorities of Emirates across all its commercial flights, assured the Dubai-based airline.

In a message to customers on its social media accounts, Emirates pointed out that all its aircraft are fitted with advanced High-Efficiency Particle Filters (HEPA) cabin air filters which are proven to filter out 99.97 per cent of viruses on board.

“The HEPA filters remove dust, allergens and microbes from the air recirculated into the cabin and flight deck, which helps to provide a safer, healthier and more comfortable environment for the passengers and crew,” it said.

“The air in our cabins is also fully renewed every two to three minutes. The HEPA filters on our aircraft are also replaced at regular intervals ensuring added peace of mind for travellers.”

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which supports the aviation industry with global standards for airline safety, security, efficiency and sustainability, “the overall risk of contracting a disease from an ill person on board an airplane is similar to that in other confined areas with high occupant density, such as a bus, a subway, or movie theatre for a similar time of exposure.”

In a report addressing cabin air quality, IATA emphasised that the risk on airplanes is probably lower than in many confined spaces because modern airplanes have cabin air filtration systems equipped with HEPA filters.

HEPA or high efficiency particulate air filters have similar performance to those used to keep the air clean in hospital operating rooms and industrial clean rooms. These filters are very effective at trapping microscopic particles as small as bacteria and viruses.

HEPA filters are effective at capturing greater than 99 percent of the airborne microbes in the filtered air. Filtered, recirculated air provides higher cabin humidity levels and lower particulate levels than 100 per cent outside air systems.

The cabin air system is designed to operate most efficiently by delivering approximately 50 per cent outside air and 50 per cent filtered, recirculated air. This normally provides between 15 to 20 cubic feet of total air supply per minute per person in economy class. The total air supply is essentially sterile and particle-free.

IATA also added in its report that cabin air circulation is continuous as air is always flowing into and out of the cabin. “Total airflow to the cabin is supplied at a bulk flow rate equivalent to 20 to 30 air changes per hour, which provides temperature control and minimizes temperature gradients within the cabin,” it said.

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