ICE addressed the widespread concerns about the impact of flying on the health and well-being of passengers. Changing passenger demographics, the advent of ultra-long-haul services, and specific health issues such as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), have all combined to increase concerns. Earlier studies have been fragmented and have not determined the health-based optimum levels or studied the synergistic effects of cabin environmental parameters, nor studied cabin pressure, hypoxia (often considered the most serious single physical hazard) and possible links with DVT.
The key objective of ICE is to provide airframers/airlines with step-change knowledge and innovations to address the concerns about the unknown combined effects of cabin environmental parameters (including cabin pressure for the first time) on the health of passengers in commercial aircraft.
The predictive model not only considered environmental parameters but also passenger profile and flight characteristics. If these indicate health risks, the user will be able to vary individual or combined parameters to minimise risks to acceptable levels in a technically feasible and economically viable manner. ICE also drafted relevant standards, including the first scientifically based standard for cabin pressure, and provided practical design guides and operational recommendations in co-operation with stakeholders.
ICE produced step-change knowledge by investigating impacts of varying levels of parameters on subjects using unique large-scale aircraft cabin environment facilities (BRE's ACE and IBP FTF), and determined optimum individual and combined levels for human well-being, validated by in-flight monitoring. From these, ICE developed predictive design models for airframers and airlines to provide, for the first time, a means by which they will be able to determine the health impact of their aircraft on their passengers.
No significant physiological symptoms or adverse effects identified for passengers using commercial flights of up to eight hours.
Recommendations for passengers
- Comply with current medical advice such as leg exercise, correctly fitted support stockings, and alcohol consumption.
- No specific systematic adverse relationship between heart rate or ratings of symptoms caused by: Cabin pressure, temperature, humidity, and noise (within the levels tested in ICE).
Recommendations for aircraft operators
- Air temperature: between 21 0C and 25 0C (optimum 23 0C);
- Relative humidity: between 25 – 40% (if technical constraints permit);
- Noise: no specific limits can be recommended for comfort;
- Ventilation: Within a cabin ventilation rate of 15 to 20 cfm, recirculation percentage can be varied between 0 to 50%
Overall, the projects conclusions indicate that flying in current commercial aircraft environments poses, in general, no significant health risk for passengers.
The existing cabin air standard covers indoor air quality and thermal comfort.
The new European ICE cabin air standard is on it’s way and will significantly contribute to enhance the already high comfort level on board of commercial passenger aircraft.