© Image Teague
Social distancing is proven to be one of the most effective methods of combatting the spread of highly contagious viruses like SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19. While many environments are easily adapted to maintain a safe 2m distance between people, aircraft cabins, with a fixed layout and dependence on passenger density for economic viability, require special considerations to ensure passenger safety.
Recent solutions have focused on decreased passenger capacity, the introduction of immovable barriers between passengers, or a combination of both. For an industry already battered by this pandemic, the decrease of passenger revenue or increased costs in development, certification, and added weight required by these solutions is difficult to bear. One alternative solution is to repurpose the gasper system already onboard all aircraft to create an invisible and effective curtain of air to dampen the spread of contagions in the cabin.
Despite tight passenger density, aircraft cabins have been shown to relatively effective at mitigating the spread of particles and disease compared to other forms of transportation and interior environments. Aircraft are designed with a wellconceived airflow and filtration scheme. The seating layout limits the amount of face to face interactions between passengers while seat backs provide physical barriers against transmission fore and aft. Studies suggest that airflow from the gaspers can further reduce the risk of spread, though this system is not optimized for the task. AirShield is a proposed solution to improve the effectiveness of the gasper air system and further increasing the safety of the cabin environment.
© Image Teague
AirShield is a low weight, easily retrofittable nozzle that uses gasper air supply to create an invisible curtain of air between passengers. The shape and speed of the air created by AirShield is optimized to deflect particles emitted from one passenger downward, safely away from other passengers’ noses and mouth—either toward existing physical barriers or to be extracted and filtered by the existing aircraft air systems.
Aircraft Integration The AirShield concept is intended to be easily integrated into existing cabin architecture, with each implementation customized based on PSU geometry, cabin styling, and seating layout. The adapters are uniquely suited to be produced by 3D printing to enable rapid production and customization as well as to create internal baffling and ducting features for improved airflow. Solution Concepts The final form of the product will be customized to suit specific aircraft and airline cabin designs. Using AirShield, the air environment can be effectively managed in the Aircraft Cabin, much more than in most public environments, which, once communicated and understood, should be very reassuring for the travelling public.