The U.S. Defense Department and United Airlines found that the risk of contracting COVID-19 while flying on an airplane is "virtually nonexistent," as long as all passengers wear masks.
300 tests were conducted inside the cabin of a Boeing 777-200 and 767-300, both aircraft were equipped with sensors and a specialized mannequin designed to simulate breathing and coughing. When the mannequin wore a mask, there was just a 0.003% chance that the particles would enter the breathing space of the person in the next seat over.
"99.99% of those particles left the interior of the aircraft within six minutes," said United Airlines Chief Communication Officer Josh Earnest. "It indicates that being on board an aircraft is the safest indoor public space, because of the unique configuration inside an aircraft that includes aggressive ventilation, lots of airflow."
The International Air Transport Association said that contracting COVID-19 while flying is extremely rare. 44 confirmed cases of COVID-19 were linked to air passengers, compared to the more than 1.2 billion people that have flown during the global pandemic.
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