Experts are giving a mixed message about the risks of Covid-19 on air travel as Americans consider their Thanksgiving holiday plans.
A Harvard University study released Tuesday modeled the airflow in the aircraft and said the onboard ventilation system specifically filters out 99% of the airborne viruses.
The team of scientists concluded that “a step-by-step approach, with ventilated gates, reduces the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmissions below other normal activities during an outbreak, such as grocery sales or eating out.”
A contract study released by Irish researchers linked 13 cases with a single passenger on a seven-hour international flight this summer, with more than one-fifth of the five seats. Some passengers may not wear helmets.
Researchers have concluded that some of the outbreaks must have occurred on the plane because some passengers “did not have a social shelter or fly to Group 1 or 2 before the flight and did not sit in their second row.”
Harvard researchers have described the muffler as an important part of keeping passengers safe in the aircraft carrier, but did not call for the enforcement of government aviation visas. But with people stranded on runways, sidewalks, and airports – where ventilation systems may not be as efficient as those on board, they say more research is needed.
Harvard’s findings reflect recent studies by the Department of Defense, Boeing, and Airbus as airlines fight to keep domestic passenger traffic above 40 percent of last year.
Last week, Southwest Airlines cited a previous study as a reason to continue selling all seats on its flights, effective December 1.