Plane Flu?

I went to the doctors this morning with the symptoms of my second chest infection of the year. No Man Flu this one and the prescription for the medically curious is Erythromycin. Other than my general wimpiness, one reason the GP offered for me having contracted this twice in three months was airline travel of which, as any reader of this blog knows, I do too much.

The link? According to the GP, airlines have been increasing the amount of re-cycled air they use in a cabin for a number of years now because “carrying heavy oxygen containers is expensive”. She also claimed to have noticed an upsurge in the contraction of viruses by frequent flyers after many airlines adopted no-smoking policies, because when people smoked on planes (it does seem mad now), the air had to be changed more often.

Now in our business we know that an expert in one area (health) is often far from expert in another (aviation policy), but a little research shows that there is quite a debate on this and I include one site here that claims that pilots have total control over the amount of new clean oxygen-rich air that is pumped into the cabin versus re-cycled air and a very informative one from Boeing which does reassure on many points, but does seem to confirm that things have changed on modern jets in a way that may not be entirely healthy:

Myth: The air-flow rate is slower in current jetliners than it was in earlier models.
Fact: All Boeing jetliners, from the earliest to the latest, have been designed to deliver approximately the same cubic volume of air per minute per passenger. The principal difference is that on newer aircraft, the air is a mixture of about 50 percent outside air and 50 percent filtered/recirculated air. Among the benefits of this design is an increased humidity level compared to the much dryer cabin environment in older jetliners.

The first airline to claim a higher percentage of fresh vs. recycled air will certainly get my attention

[tags] Boeing, PR, air quality[/tags]

Categories Technology

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