Airplane illness!

Airplane illness!


There’s nothing like being stuffed into a cramped, hot airplane cabin to make you feel sick. In response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak that grounded hundreds of international flights, an NSF-funded research team at Florida State University set out to better understand the mechanics of how infectious diseases can spread on aircraft. Using the NSF/NCSA Blue Waters, one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world, the team created sophisticated computer simulations. The researchers found that current zoned boarding procedures may play a key role in spreading disease. Exiting a plane moves people quickly through the cabin’s zones, minimizing contamination. It’s the zones associated with boarding that brings people very close to each other and keeps them close. This close proximity increases the possible transmission of infections. The team feels a better option to prevent the spread of disease would be a two-zone system where the plane is divided lengthwise, with passengers in each section boarding at random. While this system might sacrifice efficiency, the randomized boarding patterns would help reduce the clustered crowds where infections flourish. That’s NSF-funded research Advancing knowledge. Transforming our future. National Science Foundation nsf.gov

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