When we take a plane trip our body takes a journey that affects our cardiovascular system, our sensory perceptions and possibly even our immune system. In the space of just a few minutes, your body is shot into an environment whose conditions resemble those found at altitudes of 2.5km above sea level. Meanwhile, the air humidity falls to around 10 percent or lower. If that’s not enough, the airflow around your body can sometimes drop to an icy 5°C when it leaves the air-conditioning vents. So conditions are indeed extreme when you’re on board an aircraft, but what effects do they have on our well-being? Read on to find out more.
“It is possible to design a plane whose on-board conditions match those on the ground,” says the president of the German Society of Aerospace Medicine, Professor Jochen Hinkelbein from the University Hospital of Cologne. But this would require an aircraft’s aluminium skin to be much thicker, and thus weigh several tonnes more, in order to withstand the higher air pressure inside. Airlines would also need hundreds of extra kilograms of water per flight to keep the air humidified.
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December - January 2019