Forum: Comprehensive measures to protect aircraft passengers from Covid-19

Ms Koh Rui Zhen expressed concerns about safe distancing measures in planes (Lack of safe distancing on plane, Dec 14).

The International Air Transport Association has noted that globally, only 44 out of 1.2 billion passengers were reported to have been potentially infected with Covid-19 while on a flight. This translates to a very low incidence rate.

International studies have shown that the risk of in-flight transmission is very low. A large part of this is due to the seat configuration and air circulation technology on board an aircraft.

For example, as part of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore's (CAAS) requirements, cabin air in Singapore aircraft is fully refreshed every two to three minutes, double the pre-pandemic frequency.

Fresh air introduced into the aircraft goes through hospital-grade high-efficiency particulate air filters, which can remove more than 99.9 per cent of particles the size of the Sars-CoV-2 virus.

Another study by the United States Department of Defence found that aerosol particles in aircraft are typically removed five to six times faster than recommended for modern hospital operating rooms.

Hence, the potential exposure to aerosolised viruses is low, even for passengers seated side by side.

In addition, we require both passengers and air crew to wear masks while on board the aircraft, except when they are eating and drinking. They should minimise interaction and observe safe distancing on board the aircraft when passengers are not seated, such as when queueing to use lavatories.

Airlines are also required to undertake frequent cleaning of all surfaces, especially toilets.

CAAS will continue to work closely with the Ministry of Health to keep flying safe.

Alan Foo

Acting Senior Director

Safety Regulation Group

Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.