Boeing Saudi Arabia chief seeks to allay concerns of passengers over coronavirus

Boeing Saudi Arabia chief seeks to allay concerns of passengers over coronavirus
Boeing Saudi Arabia chief seeks to allay concerns of passengers over coronavirus

We show you our most important and recent visitors news details Boeing Saudi Arabia chief seeks to allay concerns of passengers over coronavirus in the following article

Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH — Life is slowing returning to normal across the world as countries have begun to ease coronavirus-induced restrictions. Airlines are also gradually resuming operations and while people are looking forward to being able to fly again, there are concerns over the health risks of air travel.

In an attempt to address the concerns, Boeing, the world's largest aerospace company, has unveiled its “Confident Travel Initiative”. As part of the initiative, the company is working with stakeholders across the aviation industry’s eco-system to establish industry-recognized cleaning and disinfecting recommendations.

Probably the most significant contributor is the air filtration system which incorporates High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters which are already present on all commercial airplanes that Boeing delivers and are similar to filters used in hospitals.

In an interview with the Saudi Gazette, the leading English-language news website in the Kingdom, Ahmed Jazzar, the president of Boeing Saudi Arabia, explains to readers salient features of the Boeing’s new initiative amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Is Boeing looking at new air filtration systems in response to growing pandemic threats, given those tightly closed areas on planes could speed the spread of the virus?

Through its “Confident Travel Initiative”, Boeing is working with the entire industry — airlines, global regulators, industry stakeholders, passengers, infectious disease experts to establish industry-recognized safety recommendations for multiple layers of protection to combat this threat.

The first layer is working with airlines and airports to help prevent anyone with the virus from boarding the airplane. This includes flexible re-booking procedures with airlines and passenger screening at airports. The second layer is assisting airlines in cleaning and disinfecting practices. The third layer helps to minimize contaminants from spreading throughout the cabin through the careful design of the cabin air system and encouraging passengers to wear face coverings.

Boeing aircraft are designed to help minimize the risk of disease transmission. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters used in all Boeing airplanes trap 99.9+ percent of particulates — including viruses and bacteria — as recirculated air passes through them and helps prevents those particulates from re-circulating back into the cabin.

Airplane cabin air flows primarily from ceiling to floor, not front to back, and the volume of air is exchanged every two to three minutes with outside air and through HEPA filters which are similar to those used in hospital operating rooms and industrial clean rooms.

These design aspects, combined with layered safety approaches now starting to take shape across the industry, help protect the health of passengers and crew.

In addition, under the Confident Travel Initiative, Boeing is taking a phased, multi-pronged approach looking at new ways we can help our customers. That includes focusing on immediate items that can be implemented quickly to further enhance safety and, secondly, focusing on longer-lead items that will require further testing, customer validation, and regulatory approval.

Why haven't Boeing tested with COVID-19? What is the reason for that? And do you plan to test with COVID at some point?

No indoor air environment can provide absolute protection from disease transmission. Boeing aircraft, however, incorporate features designed to protect the safety and health of passengers. Boeing airplanes utilize High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters that trap 99.9 percent+ of particulates — including spores, bacteria, viruses, and fungi from recirculated air and prevents them from re-circulating back to the cabin.

In addition, inside the cabin, air flows primarily from ceiling to floor in a circular pattern and leaves through the floor grilles near the same seat row where it enters. This helps minimize front-to-back air movement and helps to limit the potential spread of contaminants. The volume of cabin air is exchanged every two to three minutes, depending on aircraft type. Enough filtered and outside air is introduced to fill the cabin volume every two to three minutes.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has noted that early contact tracing evidence, although limited, suggests that the risk of virus transmission onboard aircraft is low.

Boeing has previously worked with academics and researchers in this area. We plan to ramp-up our efforts in this area to deepen our understanding of the full risks of transmission of respiratory viruses in an airplane cabin. We are strengthening our relationship with a number of research institutions to better assess possible solutions.

Is Boeing really saying that there is no elevated risk of catching a virus or a cold on a plane than elsewhere? If so this seems to contradict the everyday experience of most people who have been on a long flight and come down with a dose shortly afterward.

Boeing has always made safety and cabin air quality a top priority. Boeing’s aircraft cabins have been designed to help minimize contaminants from spreading throughout the cabin for many years, from the primarily vertical ceiling to floor flow of air, the use of HEPA filters that remove over 99.9+ percent of viruses, bacteria and fungi from air before it is re-circulated back to the cabin, and the rapid cabin air exchange rate.

The CTI effort builds on this by bringing our engineering experience and strength into play to help our customers restore confidence with the flying public.

We are taking a systematic approach and using aerospace principles and practices to help put in place multiple and independent layers of protection. We are making long-term investments and undertaking research to allow passengers to have more seamless and hassle-free travel experience. We want to give people the opportunity to help themselves, have some control over their journey and feel confident that air travel continues to be the safest way to travel.

Are certain planes restricted from flying to certain airports due to a lack of implementing certain health and safety measures?

There are no restrictions on any Boeing aircraft that can fly to any destination anywhere in the world.

Have any of Boeing's customers asked the airline to change or re-design air filtration systems on Boeing aircraft in response to passenger pressure?

Having consistent, industry-recognized safety standards and protocols will be an important part of recovery as travel resumes. Our goal is to work with all stakeholders to create uniform approaches to help protect passengers and crews and assist airlines in navigating the COVID-19 landscape as they gradually resume operations.

We are approaching this challenge from a position of strength as an aerospace company. We think of COVID-19 as a threat that needs to be handled just like any other threat to the safety of an airplane. We know the airplane and we are assessing what is the probability of particulates moving around the cabin and how that can be minimized. This gives us the ability to make incremental changes, just like we would with any design, and add layers of protection, redundancy or monitoring.

We want to handle this threat just like any other threat by assessing the hazard, understanding the environment, understanding the probability, and making good design decisions. This could be providing information to our customers to help them clean and disinfect or how to set the air conditioning packs properly on the ground or what should be done if a passenger develops symptoms on a flight.

There is the analysis and a thought process that goes with each of those actions. The best way to drive those decisions and make recommendations is through data, engineering, and science, not emotion.


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