Since the resumption of domestic flights in the country, one major concern of air travellers has been the issue of no social distancing observance in the aircraft.
They say while physical distancing is adhered strictly in the terminal before boarding why not inside the aircraft?
Stakeholders however said there was unnecessary and they should not be worried if the distancing was not observed inside the aircraft.
Before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, people meet and greet, shake hands, hug, speak while facing each other without any barriers and sit together without being suspicious of whether the other person has a contagious disease or not inside the aircraft.
These emotional activities were ways many individuals show love and attachment to one another regardless of time and place.
Today, people are now more suspicious than ever of each other due to the covid-19 pandemic especially when traveling by air.
On resumption of flights some passengers were expecting a separation perhaps of 2-3 meters inside the cabin but this was not the case.
This fear is perhaps holding many lovers of air transportation back from flying for now.
In an enclosed compartment like the aircraft, what are the chances of contracting the coronavirus?
Minister of Aviation, senator Hadi Sirika who is also a pilot says the chances are slim with the High Efficiency Particulate Air, HEPA, system in the aircraft.
“The air flow is not from the cock pit to the rear, it is from the top down and exit downward and get recirculated through that filter because of that, the chances of the microorganisms, viruses, bacteria and all of those particles to land on you is reduced even with thesystem of circulation itself.”
With the HEPA filters that capture well over 99.999% of germs, including the Coronavirus in the cabin, the Director General, Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority, Captain Gilbert Kibesays there was no cause for alarm.
“Being in an aircraft itself is a more safer environment that the airport.”
There are several other natural barriers to the transmission of the virus on board, these includes the forward orientation of passengers, limiting face-to-face interaction, seatbacks that limit transmission from row-to-row, and the limited movement of passengers in the cabin.
With all these and the filter mechanism in place, an aircraft engineer, Mr. Luqmon Animashau says safety is 100% than on the ground.
“But if you look at the aircraft, it is not like any other environment and we have this HEPA filtration that is on and every two-three minutes it filters out 99% of bacteria and microscopic organisms that you cannot see.”
An airline operator, Mr. Allen Onyema says with the disinfection of the aircraft after every flight, wearing of facemasks and observance of all safety protocols, passengers are safer.
“With all these, you cannot get COVID, this is just one hour flight, and you cannot get COVID flying in Nigeria.”
In the event of a suspected case, airlines have been directed to leave the last roll seats for isolation.
On this issue, the International Air Transport Association, IATA has emphasized
that there is no requirement for social distancing measures on board the aircraft from highly respected aviation authorities such as the US Federal Aviation Administration, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and
the International Civil Aviation Aviation Organization, ICAO.