Winter is coming to the Northern Hemisphere and, with it, lots of travelling for Thanksgiving and the holidays. Did you ever notice that upon traveling you sometimes end up getting sick afterwards? Ever wonder why? Researchers at the FAA Center of Excellence at Purdue University, created this simulation of a sneezing passenger using ANSYS to study the mechanics of pathogen travel in airplane cabins.
As you can see in this video, it is the ventilated air that spreads the germs around the cabin. So even if the passengers immediately next to you aren’t sick, you can still pick up a bug.
So with that said, can we optimize the design of the ventilation system in order to minimize the spread of germs? Well, that’s what the FAA Center for Excellence for Airliner Cabin Environment Research is doing to ensure the safety and health of airline occupants. They’re eyeing new technologies — think pathogen tracking through sensors and contamination mitigation — to improve your fighting chances of not getting sick after you travel in close proximity to someone who is.
But what you also can see on the video is that it looks like the team at Purdue University simulated a rather impolite passenger. Observe the initial pattern of the particles. It appears as though this person did not cover his sneeze (as his mother probably taught him to do when he was 5). So remember: if you’re going to sneeze or cough on a plane (or any other place for that matter), remember to cover up your mouth and nose!
If you want to learn more, you can check out the full article featured in Popular Science this week.