The pandemic saw airlines tout the benefits of HEPA air filters and how they can capture more than 99.9% of viruses and bacteria. The volume of cabin air is exchanged every two to three minutes with these systems. Yet, with the recovery period seeing load factors to the brim and mask mandates dropping, airlines are still keen to provide clean air for each passenger during the duration of the flight.
A new solution
Thus, AirShield, a patent-pending component that is installed over the top of existing air vents, repurposes purified air from the plane’s HEPA filters to form protective air barriers around and in between each flyer. Pexco acquired manufacturing rights from Teague to develop the product in the spring of this year.
The company already has plenty of experience working with components found in an aircraft’s interior. Notably, it has played a strong part in the infrastructure that handles the air on the sidewalls of the aircraft. Therefore, when the pandemic started, there was an increased desire to find a way to maximize the airflow inside the cabin.
AirShield has been through intensive design engineering & on-wing testing. Photo: AirShield
Word from the team
Pexco Aerospace’s President Jon Page explained to Simple Flying that his firm started looking at ways to change the airflow from the sidewall. When the company started patenting some of the different technologies, it found out about the AirShield concept that Teague had developed in Everett, Washington. They soon found that some of the patents overlapped. Subsequently, they decided to partner up.
Now, Page is proud of the robust concept of how to modify the airflow in the plane to increase the rate of air exchange down to the HEPA air filter. Overall, the design of the nozzles is based on the geometry of industrial air knives. The firm highlights that its “nozzle-tips harness the ‘bernoulli principle,’ drawing in the surrounding cabin air and doubling the resulting airflow.”
Currently designed for narrowbodies, AirShield can be fitted in just two minutes, as the process merely requires the initial opening and positioning of the gaspers for AirShield to be placed with a single mechanical fixing and a secondary surface-to-surface fixing utilizing industrial Velcro.
Page notes that an advantage of AirShield is the ability to reduce odors in the cabin. Photo: AirShield
A 2020 survey conducted by the company determined that 86% of passengers would choose a carrier that has AirShield over one without. Additionally, 91% of the people surveyed concurred that AirShield makes them feel like an operator is taking care of them.
Page highlights that passengers are still keen to enhance protection in the current era. As he puts it:
“It’s interesting to think about how things have changed. You get on an airplane and people put on their headphones, and they listen to their own podcasts or books or music. People want that personal space. What AirShield does gives you that virtual personal space in an environment that is fundamentally impersonal. It’s fundamentally designed for us to be together. The pandemic has made us want to pull apart, and it’s great to be together when it’s your friends. But it’s not great to be together when you’re sitting next to two people that don’t necessarily respect your space as well as you do.“So, the AirShield gives you that ability structurally to get that virtual personal space. We think it’s a winner. The thing adds less than 66 pounds to an airplane. It’s going certified soon, and it’s economical for the airline. It’s not something that is going to cost them an arm and a leg to put on, and it gives real benefits that they can market to the passenger. So we’re excited about it.”
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AirShield is currently gearing up to receive a supplemental type certificate (STC) from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). With the health crisis causing passengers to rethink the way they travel, it won’t be a surprise to see these systems in Boeing 737 or Airbus A320 cabins across the globe in the coming years.
What are your thoughts about AirShield? What do you make of the overall benefits of the product? Let us know what you think in the comment section.