How safe and effective is air conditioning on a plane?

With travel slowly recommencing, there are many questions surrounding the health and safety aspect of travelling on an aircraft, specifically with their air conditioning.

Both Boeing and Airbus have provided details on how they are taking extra measures to ensure the safety of all passengers and crew. 



Cabin air is exchanged every 2 – 3 minutes. Before air is returned, more than 99.9% of viruses and bacteria are captured by high-efficiency particular air (HEPA) filters similar to those used in hospitals.

Airflow primarily flows from ceiling to floor, not front to back, which minimizes contaminants spreading through the cabin.

Boeing has also taken a 3 step approach to keep you healthy onboard.

Step 1 Prevent the virus from boarding the aircraft

Your own strategies for self-care, physical distancing, masking, washing hands, avoiding travel if unwell – are key to everyone’s well being.

Step 2Keep the aircraft virus-free

With guidance from international health agencies, Boeing and their airline partners created comprehensive approaches to cleaning and disinfecting the cabin and flight deck.

Step 3Maintain a healthy cabin environment

Their proven air-circulation systems filter out more than 99.9% of viruses and bacteria, exchange the air every 2-3 minutes and create an airflow that limits the spread of airborne contaminants.


You can read more here.

Cabin interior


Offering one of the safest air filtration systems, Airbus ensure the highest levels of cabin air quality for passengers and crew. Their Environment Control System (ECS) controls and monitors the air quality, temperature and pressure, whilst also ensuring airflow in the cabin is constantly moving. It flows from top to bottom at one meter per second and is subsequently moved through the floor. This airflow is optimised to prevent longitudinal movement, so there is no spread between adjacent seat rows.


In addition, during the flight the air is constantly entering and leaving the cabin: As the ‘new’ air enters the cabin from outside, the same quantity of ‘used’ air from the cabin is expelled overboard via the pressurization outflow valves, such that it is fully renewed/exchanged with fresh air about every two to three minutes. For comparison, the air in hospital rooms and classrooms is exchanged about every 10 minutes and about 20 minutes in offices.


You can read more here.

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