Seating Boeing

New Developments In Cabin Air Quality Systems

Advanced filtration systems and air quality monitoring technology are being used to ensure the cleanest air possible within aircraft cabins.

Printed headline: Cabin Air Quality Systems


1. Air Quality Firsts 

Company: Pall Aerospace

Specifications: As the first company to introduce HEPA filtration for aircraft, to remove bacteria and viruses, Pall Aerospace has been focused on cabin air filtration for more than 40 years. Based in New Port Richey, Florida, the company has designed cabin air quality products for major customers such as Airbus and Boeing and even introduced the first hospital-grade HEPA filters for both their fleets in the 1990s. Other firsts for the company include introducing the first advanced cabin air filters with a specially designed carbon stage that removes volatile organic compounds and odors in addition to providing HEPA filtration in the cabin air-recirculation line. Currently, the U.S.-based division of the company is working to develop a micro-electrical mechanical (MEMS)-based air quality sensor to monitor cabin air contamination in real time. 


2. Studying Air Quality

Company: Boeing

Boeingairplane seating

Specifications: To evaluate the effects of air quality on passengers, Boeing sponsored a two-year study with Denmark Technical University, exposing participants to air with different contaminant and humidity levels at various airflows for up to 11 hr. at a time. In addition to medical tests performed on participants to measure the air’s effects, the subjects were asked to rate their perception of air quality and the intensity of symptoms such as headache, dryness, and eye and throat irritation. The results found that aside from slightly increasing humidity, the most effective technology to reduce dryness symptoms was gaseous filtration. As a result, for its 787 and 777X aircraft Boeing chose to combine HEPA filtration with a carbon-based air purification system. The company says the technology will be on new market aircraft going forward, while it continues to test several types of air filtration technologies. 

3. Advances in Combined Technology

Company: Donaldson Aerospace

Donaldson Aerospace

Specifications: Founded in 1915 by a tractor salesman who invented an air cleaner to protect the product’s engine from dust, Donaldson has created a wide portfolio of filtration technologies for many industries. Donaldson Aerospace’s most recent advancement in cabin air filtration technology is the company’s Air Purification System (APS), which combines passive HEPA to remove particulates and chemical filtration to remove engine byproducts, cleaning agents, bio-effluents and more. The company says the APS is easy to install and maintain, with no moving parts or power requirements. The chemical filtration within the APS works through a process called gas phase adsorption, which was found to be a superior filtration method through the Boeing-sponsored cabin air quality study conducted by the Denmark Technical University. Donaldson says the study supported Boeing’s decision to select APS for its 787. The APS system can also be installed in Airbus A330 and Boeing 737, 757 and 777 aircraft. 


4. Smart Air Quality Monitoring

Company: FliteTrak


Specifications: FliteTrak’s SpriteAero system is the first of its kind to monitor air quality from sensors in aircraft seating. The sensors, which can also be used to monitor temperature and humidity in a particular seat location, can be outfitted with an air quality detector circuit to identify smoke, ozone and harmful gases. As part of the company’s wider suite of remote-sensing technology called ViatorAero, SpriteAero’s collected sensor data is sent to a flight attendant’s tablet or device, so each seat is tracked in real time and issues can be flagged. Andrew Barnett, FliteTrak’s joint managing director, says the system can easily be connected to aircraft data systems if desired, and the company is in talks with European partners about installing the technology for major carriers.


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