Recently, people are becoming more concerned about the spread of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), a topic where there are misconceptions surrounding the virus. Every airline has the responsibility to relieve the discomfort of passengers. Unlike Tuberculosis, the possibility of airborne transmission with MERS is very small. So far, there have been no virus transmission cases that happened within the air cabin. In order to make passengers feel safe and at ease, Korean Air has taken a series of measures to assure its passengers safety and wellbeing.
Most commercial aircrafts are equipped with cutting-edge air supply and air filtering systems. Passengers have no need for concern over the air quality within the aircraft. However, some passengers have misunderstandings about the cabin’s enclosed space, and believe it will increase their likelihood of becoming infected with MERS.
Industry experts have stated that: “All aircrafts are equipped with an advanced air circulation system. Any particles that go into the air circulation system will be completely filtered and sterilized. Therefore, it is impossible for the virus to spread through the air in an aircraft.”
■ High temperature sterilization of air supply
Every plane operated by Korean Air is equipped with the latest air circulation technology. The technology is provided by manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus, and is able to filter out particles completely to ensure that the MERS virus does not spread within the aircraft.
The air outside enters the cabin through the engines of the plane. Firstly, the air outside is compressed by the engines and heated to 200°C so that the air is completely sterilized. The compressed air flows into the mixing manifold after passing through the ozone purifier, and into the air conditioned pack, where it is cooled.
Finally, the compressed air and the air filtered by the High Efficiency Particulate Air Filter are mixed together in a 1:1 ratio. Then, the air will be infused into the air intake vent of the upper part of the cabin, and then discharged from the air vent at the bottom part of the cabin. This way, the air in the cabin will be fresh and clean.
During the flight, fresh air will flow in through the engines while the air from the inside will be discharged. The air in the cabin will be completely refreshed every 2 to 3 minutes. It is important to note that, the air in the cabin moves vertically instead of horizontally. Therefore, the air flows from the passenger’s head to toe which prevents the spread of the virus.
■ Frequent sterilization to prevent MERS
In order to relieve passengers’ worries on MERS, Korean Air has increased the frequency of sterilization on all its aircrafts. Since the outbreak of MERS, Korean Air has been sterilizing every flight that flies from the Middle East to South Korea daily. As more people were infected with MERS, Korean Air has started sterilizing all the aircrafts regularly from 4th June. The frequency of sterilization increased from once a month to once a week. The number of sterilized planes also increased from 5 planes per day to 20 planes per day. The disinfectant that Korean Air uses (MD-125) can effectively kill the coronavirus that causes MERS for a week.