Passengers And Flight Crew Are Demanding On-board Clean, Fresh Air

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Passengers And Flight Crew Are Demanding On-board Clean, Fresh Air

12:52 18 September in

Passengers And Flight Crew Are Demanding On-board Clean, Fresh Air

A major concern of travelers today is that flying can make you ill.  Despite assurances from the airlines that the air and water inside an aircraft’s cabin are clean, the fact that hundreds of people are confined to a small space for extended periods of time increases the risk of contracting disease through the spread of germs, such as the worldwide spread of viruses such as swine flu, SARS and H1N1.  There is also evidence that Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and other aerosolized condensates and vapors, which can be present in aircraft, could have health and safety implications for both the passengers and crew and has been labeled “Aerotoxic Syndrome” due to the growing consistency of its occurrence.  Lawsuits have now been filed by flight crews or their families as a result of suffering from the symptoms of “Aerotoxic Syndrome”.   As a result the need for solutions, focused on ensuring the health of flight crews and airplane passengers, has increased significantly.

During flight, air must be pumped into the fuselage once it reaches an altitude above 9,800 feet (3.000 meters). Cabin air is provided by the Environmental Control System (ECS) which does this by controlling cabin pressure, temperature, and air quality.  In a typical aircraft, air supplied through the ECS is comprised of approximately 50% outside air (from either engine bleed or APU bleed) mixed with approximately 50% recirculated filtered air.  Newer designs such as the Boeing 787 have “bleed free” ECS systems which use external ram air in place of bleed air.  The cabin of the aircraft is divided into separate ventilation sections approximately every seven rows of seats.  In today’s aircraft the recirculated air typically flows through a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. The HEPA filters provide high-efficiency particulate arrest and can control micro-organisms introduced by passenger and crew provided these filters are well maintained.  On a short one hour flight, the cabin air can be expected to pass through these filters around 30 times.  However these filters are not totally effective against odor-causing compounds, volatile organic (VOC), and semi-volatile compounds. The hazards of these toxic fumes in the cabin and the impact on flight crews and airline passengers are a problem which must be addressed.  The exposure to fumes in the cabin from VOC, heavy metals and other chemicals is bioaccumulative, which means they present an increased impact on frequent fliers and/or those that are particularly sensitive to these compounds due to their genetics or physical condition.  In order to provide a safer and healthier environment for passengers and crew, a filtration system which provides improved purification of the above pathogens, for both outside air/bleed air and recirculated air, is required.

Today, PTI Technologies offers a complete line of HEPA Cabin Air filters which prevents bacterial growth and can extend service life.  These filters remove both small (smoke, atmospheric dust, virus and bacteria) and large particles (lint and pollen) and are certified for use on Boeing 737, 747, 757, 767, 777; Airbus A318, A319, A320, A321, A330, A340; Embraer ERJ 170/190 series and the Bombardier CRJ 700/900 series aircraft.  While standard HEPA media typically have a particulate efficiency of 99.97% at 0.3 micron particles, PTI’s CabinSafe™ media has demonstrated an efficiency of greater than 99.999%.  This improved efficiency provides excellent protection from bacteria and flu viruses such as H1N1 and SARS.     The antimicrobial agents used on our filters have been found to preserve the life of the filter media by reducing microbial colonization, therefore increasing the value and performance.  PTI’s proprietary CabinSafe™ antimicrobial agent is incorporated as a microstructural film and as such is integral to the part with no effect on filtration efficacy.  The agent additionally helps inhibit the growth of mold and mildew on the filter media.  Our CabinSafe™ filters provide a safer and healthier cabin environment allowing passengers and crew to feel more comfortable.  CabinSafe™ filters are available now and can be found in-service with a number of airlines.

PTI Technologies is now taking this technology even further with the development of special sorbents and carbon impregnated filter media combined with HEPA to enhance the absorption properties of a Cabin Air filter.  Carbon’s large surface area per unit weight allows even more contaminants to adhere or be absorbed by the filter media increasing the efficiency of the filter, and leveraging the properties of the carbon to remove a broader range of gases and other airborne materials.  This higher absorption technology is the future of Cabin Air filtration targeting the removal of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) and other offensive odors from the air within the aircraft.  Tests of PTI’s new carbon impregnated media against ISO 11155-2 and EN 4618:2009 standards reflects that it can remove 99.5% of standard laboratory challenge VOC’s such as toluene, butane and sulfur dioxide.  Beyond these standards, the carbon media can additionally be treated or impregnated to increase adsorption properties for other specific needs, thus providing greater flexibility in addressing Cabin Air quality concerns and bringing an industry leading level of performance to Cabin Air filtration.

Beyond these innovations, PTI Technologies continues to invest in future filtration technology that will improve filter efficiency, extend filter life and reduce overall operating costs for aircraft owners and operators.  PTI Technologies is actively bringing our world class technology to new designs and applications for aircraft and spacecraft programs alike by working closely with customers to provide a better cabin environment and protect the health and well-being of passengers and crew.  This innovative technology can be designed and packaged for installation on an existing fleet of aircraft, providing airlines a near-term, cost effective, high performance Cabin Air filtration solution that affords the passengers and crew the assurance and comfort that they deserve to make their flying experience better.

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