Clearing The Cabin Air: ‘AirShield’ Moves Closer To FAA Certification
With aircraft cabins returning to full capacity, there is still anxiety about returning to the sky as unmasked passengers sit in tightly packed cabins sharing air, despite assurances of the effectiveness of HEPA filters.
A new technology, called AirShield, aims to further clear the cabin air by improving the effectiveness of overhead vents, called gaspers, to prevent the spread of viruses by creating a protective air barrier around each passenger. It is expected to be FAA-certified by July.
The AirShield concept was developed in 2020 during the height of the pandemic by Seattle-based design and innovation company Teague. Last week, AirShield moved a big step closer to reality when Central Washington-based Pexco Aerospace acquired AirShield after taking the new technology from concept to an air management system proven to reduce air between passengers.
Installed over the top of existing passenger air vents, Pexco said AirShield works with existing HEPA filtration systems in the aircraft cabin to personalize passenger airflow, re-directing purified air around and in-between each passenger to create protective air barriers. “These create uniform airflow throughout the cabin, minimizing the sharing of exhaled air, and increasing the rate at which spent air is removed,” the company said.
Following in-depth testing with major US carriers that included Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Southwest, Pexco said AirShield is proven to reduce shared air particles between neighboring passengers in a full Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 cabin by 76%, and more than doubles the rate at which air particles are removed from the cabin. According an independent IPSOS survey of 1,000 US-based passengers who have traveled for leisure within the past two years, 89% of passengers said they would feel more comfortable flying post-pandemic if AirShield was installed.
Pexco Aerospace president Jon Page said, “We all want our personal space to be protected from unwanted germs and smells when we fly, especially in economy class, and AirShield provides that. With mask-wearing being phased out, it is the ‘virtual social distance’ the industry needs, providing every passenger with what they want most—a premium and personalized inflight experience.”
Teague senior director of airline experience and AirShield co-inventor Anthony Harcup told ATW, “Pexco has delivered a beautifully engineered and sophisticated product that looks great in the cabin and performs even better than we could have hoped for. Being this close to certification is super exciting for all of us and we can’t wait to see it fly!”