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Risk of contracting virus on airplanes - perspective

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Risk of contracting virus on airplanes - perspective

Old 14th Jul 2020, 19:38
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Risk of contracting virus on airplanes - perspective

https://www.forbes.com/sites/benbald.../#44cc0fde60a8

While the issue is greater than the actual transmission on planes and there are major roadblocks on either side of the flight, better analysis of data is required and industry groups need to get much savvier at confronting the fear mongering that is essential to journalisms bottom line now.
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Old 14th Jul 2020, 20:43
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The article cited by the former Chief Spirit should be read. It makes a ton of assumptions, including:
1. Transmission occurs primarily in the same row, and only people sitting in front or behind.
2. Everyone wears a mask
3. Those masks are as effective as a retracted Lancet study says there are
4. People who fly are half as likely to have COVID-19 (because they're rich, ignoring the fact that the rich have a lower infection rate because they don't have to be in contact with other people by doing things like traveling)
5. Although exposure over time is a critical factor in transmission, the authors couldn't quantify it, and so ignored it
6. Boarding, deplaning, lavatory transmission is deemed insignificant.
7. The only negative outcome considered is death, while long-term illness and disability is not mentioned.
and so on.
The fact of the matter is that this is a best-case scenario, and, read in that light, it's hardly encouraging.
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Old 14th Jul 2020, 22:25
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The arguments are interesting and perhaps valid. I accept that the risk on the flight is managed. I accept the logic of the air circulation system . Currently my fear of flying is not the airplane. Its the issue of being away from somewhere that I have some understanding of the rules, the changing status, the health system.etc. The issue that has to be addressed is confidence at being far from home during a situation that is changing daily
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Old 14th Jul 2020, 22:51
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I welcome discussions like that. It's important to take a critical look at "new facts", as long as it's not part of a crusade.
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Old 15th Jul 2020, 08:28
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What is even more interesting is the behaviour of those who think a flight would be very risky but are happy to jump in a crowded van and go where thousands of people are congregating in close proximity.

There is much more science needed but given that many countries require temperature testing getting on and/or off and some do virus testing, you are already dealing with a likely lower probability of carriers on board, symptomatic or not. That and the fact that passengers are in a slower metabolic state, so less likely to be emitting viral particles by sweating, panting, etc. plus there are HEPA filters on modern aircraft that further reduce the level of pathogens in the air. That and mandatory mask use places a lot of barriers in the way of infection - these measures donít eliminate risk but would appear to reduce it to a reasonable level compared with many other social situations.
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Old 15th Jul 2020, 21:40
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Originally Posted by FullWings View Post
What is even more interesting is the behaviour of those who think a flight would be very risky but are happy to jump in a crowded van and go where thousands of people are congregating in close proximity.
Humans not good at instinctively estimating small risks, as usual.

There is much more science needed but given that many countries require temperature testing getting on and/or off and some do virus testing, you are already dealing with a likely lower probability of carriers on board, symptomatic or not. That and the fact that passengers are in a slower metabolic state, so less likely to be emitting viral particles by sweating, panting, etc. plus there are HEPA filters on modern aircraft that further reduce the level of pathogens in the air. That and mandatory mask use places a lot of barriers in the way of infection - these measures donít eliminate risk but would appear to reduce it to a reasonable level compared with many other social situations.
I can believe all that, but to get to and from the aircraft you have to go through one of those other (anti)social situations - the airport. Was in France at Feb half term, by the time we were coming back things were starting to get worrying covid-wise, most scary part of the return trip from that point of view? (both at the time and analysed in hindsight) - the airport: check-in and security (second most scary: baggage reclaim). Actual flight was far less worrying.

The queues involved plenty of sweating, panting, odd bit of shouting, lots of physical contact, being pushed, shoved, people in your face, clothing removed and put back on, your stuff handled by multiple people, and so on, there were thousands crammed in tighter than you'd be allowed to transport livestock, for well over an hour in total, and quite possibly a longer exposure time than the actual flight.

I just can't see how airports are actually going to get back up to previous capacity with 2m or 1m+ social distancing, if you limit capacity in the terminal (like in the supermarkets, so I'm told) the outside queues will be miles long, you'll be able to park at the terminal and get a bus to the back of the queue or park miles away and have a short walk to the back of the queue. Only way I can see enough space, maybe, is if you ripped out all the shopping malls (and stuffed in a load more ventilation) - but that's the bit of the operation that actually makes money. The aircraft is in some ways the easiest bit to make more or less covid-safe, I'd be happy to do the actual flight if I didn't have to go through an airport, but air travel doesn't work that way (unless you have far more money than I will ever have).
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Old 15th Jul 2020, 22:35
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Airports are not special in terms of social distancing. In fact, none of the infrastructure we have was designed with social distancing in mind. Quite the opposite, most of it was designed with the idea of maximising the utilisation of some expensive and often scarce square metres. And none of it can handle a level of mobility anywhere close to the normal while observing social distancing. Think urban public transport. Can you always keep even a "one-metre-plus" on the Tube in rush hour? Maybe in lockdown it was manageable, but definitely not now. Can you do the same on a public transport bus? Sure you can't. So, why should planes and airports be lambasted for something that appears perfectly acceptable in other settings? Isn't this double standard?

So, if avoiding the risk altogether is not possible, the other option remains mitigation. Wear a mask. And not one from the checkout counter of your local supermarket but a professional one, the likes of Respro. Maybe a face shield over it will make you even more comfortable.
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Old 16th Jul 2020, 12:39
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The discussion of relative risks and mitigation measures will continue for the duration of the pandemic, but it is really secondary.

The initial questions that most travellers are asking, for all means of transport, First- Is my journey really necessary? Second, for long haul particularly, - will it wait until next year? For the time being I feel that 80% of people are staying put. If an effective vaccine becomes available in September, this year, as Oxford/Imperial reports suggest today we may see a better 2021.

​​​​​​https://news.sky.com/story/coronavir...eport-12029406
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Old 16th Jul 2020, 15:08
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I would certainly wait before I try any instant vaccine. It normally takes several years to test and certify it for a reason.
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Old 16th Jul 2020, 15:55
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You mean that you wouldn't take a vaccine developed and produced in China in just 9 months? - what could possibly go wrong?
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Old 17th Jul 2020, 18:37
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A family member who lives in the Burbank area just returned from Seattle - flew for the first time since March. He does a week there a month. He's no nervous-nellie and said that his two real concerns were 1) the pax who declared out load their disbelief in the pandemic, why should they wear a mask, my rights, etc., and 2) baggage claim. He said no change with the usual feral responses to barge through and grab your bag as soon as it plops onto the carousel. Although he'll continue flying he did enjoy the drive, even if it meant an overnight in northern California.
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Old 18th Jul 2020, 01:03
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Airplane air is reportedly changed every 90 seconds, so for a 30' diameter wide body, air is moving about 1' every 3 seconds.
That is not reassuring as one squeezes past the guy in the middle seat on the way to the window seat. One will be well within the middle seat person's breath radius long before any air change has taken place.
I don't think the airlines understand the problem, judging by their public reactions to date.
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Old 18th Jul 2020, 01:25
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In the US, it is somewhat confusing on how each of the airlines and states are dealing with this pandemic. My son was told to fly to Dallas for work - one day event. Hotels were empty and restaurant closed in the hotel. The flights back to Boston were 100% full on American. Delta (who I usually fly) are restricting to 60% coach and 50% 1st class or so they say. I have guidance from work (same employer) that if I travel via air (not likely given the high level or permission required), 14 days self quarantine on arrival back home IF there is someone next to me or in the same seat in front of or behind me, in other words if we can't space 6 feet apart. This is entirely dependent upon state regs and guidance for folks in other states is completely different. I don't see how this is can possibly deter spread. It is utterly confusing.
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Old 18th Jul 2020, 01:27
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Nobody in business is budgeting for air travel, at all. We used to put significant amounts of budget provision into project budgets for air travel, the last few projects have zero provision for air travel (or any travel for that matter) for at least the next 6 months. Business has adapted and I suspect it won't go back to air travel for a long time if ever.

So, you may want people to believe air travel is 'safe', but almost nobody believes that this is the case, and times have changed . . .
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Old 18th Jul 2020, 08:07
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Recent information also suggests that the efficacy of "HEPA" air filters when presented with even a small viral load is not as good as the airlines would have us believe.

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Old 18th Jul 2020, 09:57
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If you had seen what a regular cabin filter looks like or what gunk can be found behind the panels of the average transport aircraft, you would have grown scared of flying long before COVID-19. And the nice and hopefully long-term habit of frequent aircraft cabin disinfection only took off a couple of months ago. Right until then, nobody even thought about what surprises might be hiding on board.
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Old 18th Jul 2020, 16:52
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Image gear

Fake/counterfeit or damaged HEPA cartridges?
Bad ducting/seals/seating in the distribution system?

Last edited by dogsridewith; 19th Jul 2020 at 17:45.
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Old 18th Jul 2020, 21:46
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It does seem that the airline industry is in denial.
As Fergusd has pointed out, business travel is drastically curtailed and anecdotally I can testify that finance industry professionals think this is not likely to changed this year.
As for leisure travel, it is staggering trying to deal with quarantines and medical insurance issues, not to mention the impact of increasing global tensions.
A system reset appears inevitable once the current wave of panic stimulus funding is spent. As is, airlines the world over look to become government wards once again.
Is anyone offering any coherent proposals to wind up in a better place?
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Old 19th Jul 2020, 00:27
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Well, how can we mitigate the risk any further? By limiting load factors to the level permitting social distancing at all stages of the trip, including the airport? A 180-seat A320 alone would make for a 360-metre queue, should 1,5 metres between passengers be respected. Or 4 90-metre queues. That's only one aircraft. And a relatively small one. What about a wide-body with 300-400 passengers? What airport terminal where about in the world can handle this? Not to mention that no private airline can survive for a long time if the load factor is limited to the amount providing PROPER social distancing. And that cannot be achieved by leaving the middle seat empty. It's only attainable with passengers sitting in the window seats of alternating rows only - which makes for a maximum load factor of 16,67% for a 3-3 seating arrangement and 25% for a 2-2 one.

And then comes the question - won't this sort of impact on aviation be disproportionate, as compared to other venues which also compromise the 1,5-metre rule because they're not designed to handle it? Should they also be required to match the same level of sacrifice? Or should aviation be lambasted as the only "bad guy" out there while bars, taxis and whatnot else are quietly allowed to disregard the 1,5-metre rule?
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Old 19th Jul 2020, 01:25
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Originally Posted by PilotLZ View Post
Well, how can we mitigate the risk any further?
Probably you cannot . . . and that is not a criticism of the aviation industry or antbody in it . . .

The business sector has had to continue without (any) travel for the last 3 months in the uk, we have made it work, many have been pleasantly surprised at how effective things can be. I think almost nobody with budget authority will go back to air travel. None of my customers will . . . I won't, no matter how much I enjoy(ed) the social side of business . . . The demographic of business travellers makes them particularly exposed t cv-19 - they simply will not get on planes . . .

I've flown a couple of million miles in my life, almost all business, but I think I may not fly again for a long time . . . lets face it, for a pax it has become a cost reduced hellish experience which many people can do without in their lives (I will not miss it) . . . add in cv-19 . . . I may never fly again . .

Times are changing, best of luck to all involved.
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