AirShield, a technology developed by Pexco Aerospace and Teague to minimise intra-passenger transmission of airborne germs and odours in the aircraft cabin, has entered the final stage of certification with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Pexco has been granted a Project Specific Certification Plan (PSCP) number and its engineering team is now completing further on-wing testing of AirShield onboard A320 aircraft, with a view to receiving final certification next month (July 2022).
AirShield is a compact design that clips onto the existing overhead passenger air vents, re-directing purified air downwards around and in-between each passenger to create ‘air barriers’ between them, with the air then pushed towards the existing HEPA filtration systems in the cabin. This design is intended to create uniform airflow throughout the cabin, minimising the sharing of exhaled air and increasing the rate at which spent air is removed.
Having spent the last two years developing the design and performance of AirShield, Pexco has already completed CFD evaluations, and also on-wing tests onboard B737 and A320 aircraft in collaboration with airlines including American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines. The data has informed the engineering development of AirShield, and Pexco says the results have proven its efficacy.
The company says that the tests found that AirShield reduces shared air particles between neighbouring passengers in an economy-class cabin by 76% (assuming a narrowbody aircraft cabins at maximum capacity with no passengers wearing face masks) and also doubles the rate at which particles are expelled from the cabin and replaced by freshly purified air. Pexco also claims that Airshield is 50% quieter than standard air vents. AirShield can be also adapted for use in widebody aircraft cabins.
Pexco is confident there will be demand for Airshield, citing an independent IPSOS survey of 1,000 US-based passengers who have travelled for leisure within the last two years. 91% indicated that AirShield would make them feel like an airline is taking care of them, while 89% would feel more comfortable flying with AirShield post-pandemic, and 865 of respondents stated they would choose to fly with an airline that has AirShield installed over one without. The survey was conducted in November 2020 so passenger mindsets may have altered since, but Pexco feels that since passengers are no longer mandated to wear face masks onboard aircraft, there will be demand for an additional level of personal protection in the cabin.