OWN VOICE. ~ InPerspective by Gregg Dieguez —
In what may be no surprise to many of you, you’re going to hear of a government study shortly that makes it sound like airplane travel will be relatively safe. My advice: Beware of Good News.
Thanks to Bruce Laird and Dan Goodspeed for their initiatives which spurred this article.
Images: most will enlarge for improved readability in a new window when you click on them.
The results of the Air Force Transcom/DARPA-sponsored aircraft aerosol measurement experiments are now published: US Transportation Command,DARPA, and Air Mobility Command, “TRANSCOM/AMC Commercial Aircraft Cabin Aerosol Dispersion Tests.” Final Report posted 15 Oct 2020.
Unsurprisingly, their study concludes that it is completely safe to fly, even on very long duration flights – because the aircraft’s ECS (air circulation & filtration system) is very rapidly sucking all the virus particles out of the cabin and filtering them. They did the simulation in an airplane without PEOPLE, placed in the other seats to block downward cabin air flow; no carry-on items stowed beneath seats or in seat back pockets; no tray tables down, with laptops on them. In other words, no meaningful blockage of air flow to the floor vents, as would absolutely be the case in a normal flight.
There were similarly artificial limitations and weaknesses to their testing of hangars and gateways. Anything that blocks air movement & filtering increases risk of transmission.
Further, the risk from travel is more than the Flight, it’s the Journey. On a round-trip you’ll have to pass through airports 4 times (arrival and departure) and cab rides 4 times and making 2 flights (a round trip) all without infection. The exposure isn’t just the airplane, it’s the Journey.
We all know there are people taking no responsibility for public health and NOT wearing masks; and well-meaning, uninformed people who wear masks but don’t cover their noses with them (like, on any NFL sideline these days). Your health is interdependent with the health and discipline of everyone around you, which is why we have, well, THIS:
So, I have very mixed feelings about holding our traditional Thanksgiving and/or having our daughter home for Christmas. We need a study that isn’t so artificial (well, we have some, real-life examples of airplane super-spreading, but those weren’t controlled tests), and one which encompasses the risks of the entire Journey.
Couple the already prevalent mask and cabin fever with a Holiday Season, on a wide scale, and this holiday season could be a terrible disaster. Mixing all those healthy and ill people together, on top of what are now record numbers of cases, and with deaths now up at the same rate as the Spring – even given all the new knowledge of treatment, just seems too dangerous. We need more evidence of safety, and/or faster test results, and rapid contact tracing, before we’d be able to keep the virus under control.
Be CAREFUL out there.
Mr. Dieguez is a native San Franciscan, longtime San Mateo County resident, and semi-retired entrepreneur who causes occasional controversy on the Coastside. He is now a candidate for the MCC. In 2003 he co-founded MIT’s Clean Tech Program here in NorCal, which became MIT’s largest alumni speaker program. He lives in Montara. He loves a productive dialog in search of shared understanding.