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Riding an aircraft can never be compared to riding a jeepney or a bus

It's just so funny how some people can rant on social media claiming that some airlines are breaking the social distancing rules of the Philippines' Inter-Agency Task Force.

Sadly, we even see some people rant "why is it they are very strict about social distancing on jeepneys but they cannot do the same on airplanes." You can never compare riding an airplane to riding other forms of transportation like buses and jeepneys. You cannot compare apples to oranges.

"But they are still modes of transportation, aren't they"

While an airplane and a bus or jeepney are modes of transportation, ahhhhmmm, well one flies and the other moves on the ground. Well, that's the huge difference. However, speaking in terms of the coronavirus and the air inside the cabin, they are totally different too.


 Airflow itself is a huge difference

While passengers on a bus and aircraft are seated side by side facing front, the airflow of each are totally different from another. In an airplane, the air only flows in one direction which is from top to bottom. It is fully renewed every 2 to 3 minutes 20 to 30 times an hour. 

Fresh air from outside the aircraft is brought inside which enters the air mixing unit before entering the cabin itself. It is then mixed with 50% air which had gone through the HEPA filters and brought into the passenger cabin in which the air flows from the top and exits at the bottom where your feet are.

Since the airflow only goes on one direction which is from top to bottom, contaminants in the air like bacteria and viruses do not go to other passengers in front or behind, but they go straight down.

 In a bus, air goes through all directions after being blown from the top of passengers, and sometimes, horizontally. They may flow forward or back or even beside as buses are not equipped with an air circulation system that ensure one airflow direction. Moreso, they are not equipped with HEPA filters.

Now why does airflow make a huge difference? That's because these contaminants like viruses may stay in the air for a while. The airflow at a certain place can bring these viruses to others. 

In an office in Seoul, a group of people working in a common area seated in different places from another were infected with covid-19 almost the same time. The culprit was the airconditioner which recirculates air horizontally.


HEPA filters equipped

Modern aircraft are equipped with HEPA filters or High Efficiency Particulate Arrestance which catches contaminants like viruses and bacteria with a 99.99% efficiency. Buses and other modes of land transportation or even common workspaces are not equipped with such filtration system. Places that are equipped with such air filtration system are hospital operating rooms, which require very clean air to prevent any complications on patients.

In an aircraft, the air that flows from above exits the passenger cabin below and it passes through the AC unit with HEPA filters where viruses and contaminants are removed. 50% of that enters the air mixing unit in which 50% fresh air from outside is injected and enters the cabin once again.

With all these, aircraft passengers are ensured that they are breathing clean air on board. This process is not found in your common bus, jeepney, or other modes of land transportation. Incomparable, right?

Zero transmission on-board

Philippine Airlines (PAL), despite carrying numerous passengers side-by-side, has registered zero Covid-19 transmissions on board, thanks also to other stringent biosecurity measures. These include mandatory wearing of face masks and now mandatory wearing of face shields also, health checks at the airport and before departure.

PAL cabin crew also wear Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) and a less person-person contact 
service is now being carried on to ensure everyone's safety and peace of mind.

So when riding an airplane, please do not be surprised if passengers are seated side by side. This is because the transmission on board is very low due to the air circulation and filtration system on board an aircraft not found in other modes of transportation.

Before we go ranting on social media, lets know the facts first. The last thing we need now is misinformation which may cause unnecessary panic and stress.

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