You may need to show up four hours before your next flight.
During a hearing Tuesday before the House and Representatives Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, the experts outlined the challenges airlines will face in keeping their passengers and crew healthy, as they continue to fly amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Ensuring that there will be no transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 would probably be a difficult test.
“If the SARS-CoV-2 virus is as contagious as the influenza virus with the transmission rate that we exceed in size in our simulation, one can expect one or two passengers or the crew to become infected on a full 4-flight hours”.
To do this, airlines should require that all passengers and flight crew members show up at least four hours before departure, said Vicki Hertzberg, biostatistics and professor at Emory University.
At that point, everyone boarding the flight would have to undergo a nasal swab test for COVID-19, and anyone who tested positive couldn’t fly.
Without this process, “there is no way to absolutely guarantee that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is not transmitted in-flight,” Hertzberg told lawmakers during the hearing.
Also read:If airlines keep the middle seat empty for fear of coronavirus transmission, will air travel become more expensive?
Hertzberg previously co-led the research, funded by Boeing BA,
Simulating the habits of passengers during flights to see how infectious diseases are spread on or near full capacity aircraft.
“If the SARS-CoV-2 virus is as contagious as the influenza virus with the transmission rate that we ‘oversize’ in our simulation, one can expect one or two passengers or the crew to become infected on a full flight. 4-hour duration ”amid the coronavirus pandemic, Hertzberg said.
Airlines are implementing precautionary measures in an attempt to lure people back into flight after the coronavirus pandemic severely reduced air travel worldwide.
Some airlines, including JetBlue JBLU,
They have said they would block intermediate seats for passengers not traveling together to aid in social distancing on board flights.
Industry trade group Airlines for America said last week that its member airlines, which include JetBlue, United Airlines UAL,
Alaska Airlines ALK,
American Airlines AAL,
Delta Air Lines DAL,
Hawaiian Airlines HA,
and Southwest Airlines LUV,
It will impose strict facial mask rules, including possible prohibitions for passengers who do not follow the rules.
Some airlines, including JetBlue, have said they would block intermediate seats for passengers not traveling together. Others have proposed putting plexiglass barriers between passengers.
Others have proposed putting plexiglass barriers between passengers on flights.
But experts during Tuesday’s hearing said they still don’t know enough about the virus that causes COVID-19 and how it can spread on planes to say whether these precautionary measures are effective.
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“If we put a barrier between the seats, does that reduce the risk by 5% or 95%? We just don’t know, ”Byron Jones, an engineer and professor at Kansas State University, told lawmakers. “It is very difficult to obtain that data.”
Jones added that other precautions may not be financially viable for airlines. For example, to reduce the probability of exposure to a very low level, “you would need to make the density of seats so low that it would be impractical to operate an aircraft economically,” Jones said.
Another problem is consistency across the industry. Witnesses during Tuesday’s hearing noted that the Transportation Department did not implement a national preparedness plan for the airline sector, despite a recommendation from the US Government Accountability Office. USA
As a result, airlines and airports are largely left to their own devices in developing safeguards to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among travelers and workers, they said. With the process varying so much from one company to another and from one airport to another, public trust becomes a concern.
“If passengers begin to discover that their experiences are inconsistent or confusing, that can affect their confidence in the system,” said Heather Krause, director of physical infrastructure issues at the Government Accountability Office.