Flying may be safer than working in an office amid the COVID-19 pandemic, aircraft makers Airbus, Boeing and Embraer asserted on Thursday.
Airbus presented a computer model showing that air passengers who are sitting next to each other and are wearing masks are exposed to half as many cough droplets as people who are 1.8 meters (5.9 feet) apart in an office.
"We have concrete data which reveals the aircraft cabin offers a much safer environment than indoor public spaces," Airbus Engineering official Bruno Fargeon told a press conference of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in Geneva.
Using similar modeling, Boeing said that sitting next to each other on a plane was the same as standing 2 meters apart in an office conference room.
According to IATA, only 44 cases of on-board infections have been reported so far this year.
This means that one in 27.3 million air travelers caught the novel coronavirus.
"Even if 90% of the cases were unreported, it would be one case for every 2.7 million travelers," IATA medical advisor David Powell said.
Aircraft use filter systems that clean the entire cabin air every two to three minutes, as opposed to two to three times per hour in office spaces, according to IATA. The airflow from the cabin ceiling to the floor also helps to prevent the spread of the virus across seat rows.
According to the group, the world's airlines are losing nearly $13 billion a month as the pandemic curbs international travel.
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