Monday, August 31, 2020

‘Air travel safest public transport in Cov times’

Kolkata: An in-flight transmission study by industry body International Air Transport Association (IATA) of four airlines that carried 1.3 lakh flyers, 1,100 of whom were confirmed Covid-19 cases, revealed that only one passenger may have been infected during the flight. In India, 341 passengers tested positive for Covid out of more than 12.4 lakh who travelled on domestic flights between May 25 and June 15. But contact tracing did not find even one co-flyer to have contracted the infection.
“In Covid times, air travel is the safest mode of public transport. In-flight travel is safe due to strict regulatory checks, high compliance to protective measures among passengers and crew, and use of technology,” aviation medicine expert, group captain Yashvir Singh Dahiya said at an aviation webinar on “navigating through Covid clouds to safer cruising heights”.
Boeing India president Salil Gupte explained the distinctive features of aircraft ventilation systems that replace the cabin air every two-three minutes, pumping fresh air in from ceiling vents and removing the air from vents on the walls along the floor. This meant there was very little possibility of lateral droplet transmission. “The high air displacement rates are complemented with HEPA filters that remove almost all particles of the typical size of coronavirus,” he explained.
Boeing and Airbus, whose planes carry nearly 95% of flyers in India, have advised airlines to keep the ventilation system running when passengers are boarding and disembarking to further minimize the risk.
Turnover time for aircraft has increased from 25-40 minutes to at least an hour to ensure sanitization. “Earlier, deep cleaning of an aircraft happened at the end of the day. Now, it happens after every flight,” said IndiGo senior VP (flight operations) Capt Ashim Mittra.
31/08/20 Subhro Niyogi & Tamaghna Banerjee/Times of India
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