Reinhard Schuetz firstname.lastname@example.org Tue, Mar 10, 8:36 PM To WestJet@em.westjet.com
Att’n: Mr. Ed Sims
(President/CEO - WestJet)
Your concern with respect to maintaining the health, safety and comfort of your airline passengers is much appreciated.
However, before making the claims stated in your Mar. 9/20 email, about how clean the passenger cabins are maintained (via sanitizing and HEPA filters), you should have informed yourself better. The information provided is ‘misleading’ and provides your customers with a ‘false sense of security’.
If all that ‘additional/comprehensive’ sanitizing and disinfecting is being done on every surface in the passenger cabin (and I assume also the cockpit), I’m sure it would probably take at least a minute, or more, per seat – all in addition to the existing cleaning performed between each flight. This, I assume, would result in about an hour or so of extra cleaning time. Is each airplane disinfected after each flight? How does all that cleaning affect your present flight schedule? What cleaning/disinfecting is being done to your ventilation ducts that potentially harbour harmful organisms and toxic chemicals? A HEPA filter (whether referred to as medical, commercial, industrial or state-of-the-art) is nothing more than a filter designed to capture 99.97% ‘particulate matter’ down to 0.3µm (microns). Viruses and toxic chemicals are much smaller - anywhere from about 0.1µm to 0.0001µm in size. In their review of HEPA filters, the FAA’s Medical Institute has indicated that HEPA filters are ‘not’ designed to capture gases, vapours and viruses. Reports and studies by ASHRAE, Research Council of Norway and Clemson University have found that HEPA filter efficiency claims of 99.97% are based on artificial challenge dust used in short-term laboratory testing. That efficiency claim has little relevance to actual filter effectiveness during long-term usage under actual operating conditions.
Your concern with respect to maintaining the health, safety and comfort of your airline passengers is much appreciated.
However, you should have informed yourself better before making the claims in your article (German copy attached) about:
“The air on board of all our airlines at Lufthansa Group Airlines is cleaner than the air on Earth.” “The air circulating in the cabin is filtered and freed from contamination like dust, bacteria and viruses.” “We are also prepared for eventual suspicious Corona cases onboard” - (which I assume implies increased disinfection/sanitization) The information provided is ‘misleading’ and provides your customers with a ‘false sense of security’.
If all that ‘additional’ sanitizing/disinfecting is being done on every surface in the passenger cabin (and I assume also the cockpit), I’m sure it would probably take at least a minute, or more, per seat – all in addition to the existing cleaning performed between each flight. This, I assume, would result in about an hour or so of extra cleaning time. Is each airplane disinfected after each flight? How does all that cleaning affect your present flight schedule? What cleaning/disinfecting is being done to your extensive ventilation duct system that potentially harbours harmful organisms and toxic chemicals? What happens to contaminants trapped by saturated HEPA filters once filters are discarded? Is it just a contamination transfer to a different location? A HEPA filter (whether referred to as medical, commercial, industrial or state-of-the-art) is nothing more than a filter designed to capture 99.97% ‘particulate matter’ down to 0.3µm (microns). Viruses and toxic chemicals are much smaller - anywhere from about 0.1µm to 0.0001µm in size. In their review of HEPA filters, the FAA’s Medical Institute has indicated that HEPA filters are ‘not’ designed to capture gases, vapours and viruses. Reports and studies by ASHRAE, Research Council of Norway and Clemson University have found that HEPA filter efficiency claims of 99.97% are based on artificial challenge dust used in short-term laboratory testing. That efficiency claim has little relevance to actual filter effectiveness during long-term usaunder actual operating conditions.
Regards, Reinhard Schuetz, P. Eng.
Calgary, AB, Canada
From: John Kelly Sent: Wednesday, March 11, 2020 3:31 PM To: Reinhard Schuetz <email@example.com> Subject: FW: Airplane Disinfection?
Good day Mr. Schuetz,
My name is John Kelly and I am the Vice president of Technical Operations here at WestJet. Ed has asked me to respond to you directly as it is one of my teams that manage the grooming / disinfecting of our aircraft.
Thank you for taking the time to bring forward your concerns. We appreciate and respect your opinions. I want to assure you we have highly skilled professionals within this organization who are dedicated to the safety and maintenance of our aircraft.
Each day our airline operates close to 700 flights and transports nearly 80,000 guests to more than 100 destinations in North America, Central America, the Caribbean and Europe. We hold ourselves to the highest standard and strive to create an environment as clean as realistically possible given the fact that our aircraft will always be public spaces.
I’d like to offer additional context on the topics you referenced:
a. The appropriate resources have been allocated to accomplish the additional sanitizing and disinfection of our aircraft. This is in addition to working with our product suppliers to ensure effective use of products as part of the recommended procedures.
b. The safety of our guests, crew and aircraft is WestJet’s top priority and we would never compromise that safety. Each aircraft gets the required attention to provide our guests with a safe environment during their journey on our fleet.
c. We have had to make necessary adjustments to our flight schedule to complete additional tasks, to provide our guests with that reassurance and comfort level.
d. WestJet follows the maintenance schedule as set forth by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) along with obtaining Transport Canada approval for our own maintenance schedules. Not only is WestJet audited by Transport Canada, additional governance and oversight includes discussions with Health Canada.
e. HEPA filter replacement and disposal procedures are followed based on the instructions established by the OEM.
f. We know there is a common public misconception that aircraft cabin air can be harmful, and it was important for us to bring awareness to our guests regarding HEPA filters and their importance. WestJet relies on the certification and approval process as set by the OEM on the effectiveness of the products chosen. Filter designers and manufacturers are experts in this field and best suited to answer additional questions. WestJet uses the approved products of Donaldson and PALL, for our fleet of aircraft.
g.& h. Design and manufacturing standards do change from one company to the next, along with some companies meeting the minimum, while others go to great lengths to far exceed those standards.
I take from your email address that our industries are very similar in following well-established procedures, while only using approved products and standards. The WestJet organization employs professionals in this area along with oversight by regulatory agencies to ensure the overall compliance and safety of our great organization.
Once again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with us.
John W. Kelly
From: Reinhard Schuetz Sent: Saturday, March 14, 2020 9:38 PM To: John Kelly Cc: XXX XXXX Subject: Airplane Disinfection?
Hello Mr. Kelly …
Thank you for your reply. However, except for some standard general ‘feel good’ comments, no direct answers were actually provided in response to any of my questions. Why?
It’s one thing to simply make generic marketing comments like “appropriate resources have been allocated”, “each aircraft gets the required attention”, “make necessary adjustments” or “includes discussions with Health Canada” … but are they actually being fully implemented … and how?
I have no doubt that airlines normally endeavour to follow regulatory and OEM published documentation. However, how many are nothing more than ‘guidelines’ (indicating ‘would’ or ‘should’) in lieu of stipulating actual ‘requirements’ (by specifying ‘shall’).
A couple of weeks ago, on a return flight from Hawaii to Canada (via WestJet) and COVID-19 was on everyone’s mind, two of the three tray tables in our row had coffee stains on them and some food crumbs littered the floor. How does that represent ‘detailed cleaning’ - which I assume would imply every surface area in the cabin, galley, washrooms and cockpit on an airplane, including arm rests, mesh pockets, window blinds, light switches, etc.?
With respect to your comments there being “a common public misconception that aircraft cabin air can be harmful”, as well as alluding to “HEPA filters and their importance”, I’m interested about the due diligence, if any, WestJet applies to testing and evaluating HEPA filter efficiency on airplanes after long-term usage? At what flight intervals are filters checked? Is filter efficiency strictly based on OEM’s marketing claims?
It is also curious that no airlines ever seem to willingly divulge some information to the general public, such as:
According to the FAA’s Civil Aerospace Medical Institute, HEPA filters are designed to capture 99.97% Particulate Matter larger than 0.3µm (microns), but not gases, vapours and viruses – all of which are substantially smaller than 0.3µm (typically between 0.1µm – 0.0001µm); Various ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers), Clemson University and Research Council of Norway studies have reported that HEPA filter efficiency results, which are based on using a fairly uniform challenge dust during short-term laboratory testing, have little relevance to actual atmospheric contaminants under actual long-term operating conditions; During flight, ventilation air enters the aircraft via ‘unfiltered’ Bleed Air from the jet engine. Only after mixing with about 50% outside air (during flight), is the cabin and cockpit air recirculated through a HEPA filter; Similarly, prior to take-off, ‘unfiltered’ contaminated air at ground level (due to exhaust gases from other airplanes) enters the airplane via an APU (Auxiliary Power Unit) and then recirculated through a HEPA filter; Sprayed disinfectants (toxic chemicals) will settle on all interior airplane surfaces and potentially dislodge with air movement. Once air-borne and inhaled, some people may experience respiratory issues and/or irritable bowel syndrome; (Disinfectants may be classified as non-toxic to humans, but they are still a ‘toxic chemical potentially harmful to some humans); Thus, in all three scenarios, the ‘first line of defence’ against any type of contamination (germicidal or chemical) are the lungs and immune system of passengers and flight crew on board. Not sure why you assumed that “our industries are very similar” based on my email address? My company’s patented UV-DOX Reactor is neither a filter, sorbent or scavenger. It represents a pollution control device capable of ‘refining air quality’ via simultaneous destruction of harmful organism and toxic chemicals – nothing more, nothing less!
However, as it turns out, since filtration devices do serve a very useful purpose for capturing particulate matter, there undeniably exists a potential synergy with the UV-DOX Reactor – should WestJet be interested - for advanced mitigation of contaminants in confined space environments … filters for upstream particle capture and UV-DOX Reactor for downstream destruction of harmful organisms and toxic chemicals.
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