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California Pacific Airlines Embraer E145 taxiing at McClellan-Palomar (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Joey Gerardi)

Embraer Develops HEPA Filtration Kits for Installation on ERJ-145 Aircraft

As the pandemic continues to threaten holiday air travel, airlines and aircraft manufactures are becoming more and more desperate to make passengers feel safe while flying. In particular, one method that has been an effective way of settling the nerves of customers and keeping cabin air clean is the use of High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration systems. According to Dr. Bjoern Becker of Lufthansa Group, these HEPA filters are installed on commercial aircraft and mirror the type of filtration system seen in an operating room “with no or minimal crossover of air streams.”

While many aircraft types can be fitted with the filters, for much of the pandemic, Embraer’s smaller jets, including the ERJ-135, ERJ-140 and the ERJ-145, had yet to receive the enhanced system. However, on Nov. 26, the company released a Service Bulletin that allows for the installation of HEPA filters on all of its ERJ 145 aircraft.

Embraer says it has been working tirelessly for five and a half months to develop “solutions to increase passenger safety and prevent the potential transmission of viruses on board.” Through the careful creation of the service bulletin and the manufacturing and purchasing of specific parts, Embraer has developed a HEPA filter kit for its ERJ 145 aircraft.

Seventy kits are being assembled by the Brazil-based manufacturer and are expected to be delivered by mid-December. In addition to the ERJ 145, the HEPA technology is now available on Embraer Executive Jets and is standard on the Praetor 500 and Praetor 600 jets. Furthermore, Embraer said that the solution would be available for its ERJ 135 and ERJ 140 aircraft very soon.

In a statement, Embraer Services and Support CEO Johann Bordais said, “At Embraer, we are always focused on our customer, on how to better support them and how to further improve our products. Given the moment we are living, developing a HEPA filter service bulletin for the ERJ 145 is a must-have solution Embraer developed for making cabin conditions even safer for passengers.”

HEPA filters are an essential technology to combat the transmission of the coronavirus on commercial aircraft. According to Dr. Becker, the system works when “air is pumped from the ceiling into the cabin at a speed of about a yard per second and sucked out again below the window seats. Cabin air is completely changed every three minutes, on average, while the aircraft is cruising.”

Becker explained that 60% of cabin air is fresh and piped in from outside the plane, while the remaining 40% is filtered through the HEPA system. According to Embraer, the filtration system on its planes, which is already standard on its E-Jet and E-Jet E2 series of aircraft, can capture “99.97% of airborne particles and other biological contaminants, such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi.” The system allows the cabin air to be refreshed every 20 to 30 seconds, which significantly exceeds the filtration frequency experienced in shops, offices and restaurants, and is five to six times more often than in a hospital environment.

Embraer is not the only aircraft manufacturer to come up with solutions for aircraft sanitation. Earlier this week, De Havilland Canada announced its partnership with Aero HygenX Inc. to develop a new technology called RAY that will disinfect Dash 8 series aircraft between flights. RAY will be an autonomous robot responsible for cleaning cabin air and sanitizing surfaces using high-frequency ultraviolet-C light, which avoids the use of common chemical-based disinfectants.

Taylor Rains
Taylor Rains
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