How often are the HEPA filters changed out on commercial aircraft? Is it done during a particular inspection frequency or a time limit?
– Mac, El Paso, Texas
Based on the information I could find, there is not a specific time interval for changing HEPA filter for all airplane types. It varies by manufacturer and most HEPA filter changes are included in the maintenance process scheduled for a specific interval.
What my research did reveal is that almost airlines are changing the filter – which is an easy task – more often than the manufacturer’s recommendation.
If the HEPA filters on a jetliner recycle 25% of the cabin’s air supply, how many cycles do you think it takes to expose an individual to airborne viruses that number in the multi-billions with each cough or even normal respiration?
– BCB MD, PhD, Florida
The exchange rate in aircraft is better than in most buildings, so I think the risk is mitigated somewhat.
It is not possible to answer your questions in number of cycles. I do not think it has been calculated, and the exposure susceptibility of each individual varies.
For a more specific answer, I would suggest you ask the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
John Cox is a retired airline captain with US Airways and runs his own aviation safety consulting company, Safety Operating Systems.