NAIROBI, Kenya August 3 – American aircraft manufacturer, Boeing, has assured passengers and crew of utmost safety onboard following fears of COVID-19 across the world.’
Boeing’s assurance follows raging debate on the safety of passengers onboard aircraft, at a time most nations, including Kenya, are easing travel restrictions after months of airspace closure over fears of COVID-19.
Boeing has now assured that one is safer up there on a plane than out here due to its safety features.
By August 3, the disease had infected 18 million people worldwide, claimed nearly 700, 000 people with 11 million having recovered.
“We are working with the industry to put the multilayers protection for the air travel journey, equipping multiple layers of protection for what I would call viral protection,” said Jim Haas, Director of Product Marketing for Boeing Commercial Airplanes.
Haas said Boeing commercial planes have been fitted with various protective layers, ranging from the use of advanced air filtration systems, adequate checks, efficient cleaning procedures, and is also considering the use of ultra-violet lights to disinfect surfaces.
“We don’t see the need to re-design the sitting arrangements on the airplane, International Transport Association (IATA) has done several surveys of many carriers, what IATA has found is that it is very, very rare to have a passenger to passenger transmission on the airplane,” he said.
Boeing remains confident that passenger-to-passenger transmission will remain minimal, further dismissing the possibility of reconfiguring its aircraft capacity to accommodate physical distancing protocols.
Haas said passengers will be subjected to advanced checks to verify they have not had any virus-like symptoms, not been around anyone with virus-like symptoms, and further undergo health and temperature checks.
Besides the cleaning and disinfecting procedures of aircrafts, Haas added that the installed High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters have been designed to pull out 99.9% of viruses from the plane.
“The way the cabin air flows vertically downwards, the HEPA filters pull out 99.9% of viruses. And the rate at which the cabin air is exchanged, very rapidly. The vine of cabin air in the airplane is exchanged every 2-3 minutes,” he said.
On a future outlook, Haas says, Boeing is developing a portable ultraviolet light that can be used to disinfect surfaces like the flight deck, switches, and the controls.
“We are also working on developing ultraviolet lights embedded in the lavatories. So after a passenger would use the lavatory, the door would shut. The ultraviolet light would come on and disinfect surfaces between passengers’ usage,” Haas added.
He further noted that the firm will use an airtime microbial cording technology which will ensure the spraying of surfaces on planes to provide a hostile environment for viruses and bacteria.
“We are also working with airlines on more effective ways to apply the chemical disinfectants using electrostatic sprayers. They would spray the chemical out and put a charge on those chemicals so they stick to surfaces to provide more effective disinfection,” he added
While Boeing said it had put in place adequate measures, Haas advises its passengers to abide by the airline guidelines in order to minimize virus transmissions within the plane.
“We strongly advocate for passengers wearing face coverings on the airplane. All these protective layers are these extra counter-measures. Follow the hand sanitization procedures, don’t travel if you feel ill. Reschedule your flight and be rest assured the air travel journey is being protected,” he added.