Commercial, Podcast

PODCAST: Airbus A220 Chief Engineer Explains How Cabin Air is Cleaner Than You Think

Jean-François Parent is the Head of Engineering and Chief Engineer of the A220 at Airbus Canada Limited Partnership, in Mirabel, Canada. Photo: Airbus

On this episode of the Global Connected Aircraft Podcast, we caught up with Jean-François Parent, head of engineering and chief engineer for the Airbus Canada Limited Partnership’s A220 program.

The chief engineer explains how the A220 and all Airbus airliners are designed to prevent air contamination under normal operating conditions. When at cruising altitudes, the cabin air is a mix of fresh air drawn from the outside of the aircraft and passed through High-Efficiency-Particulate Arrestors (HEPA) filters designed to remove particles in the air down to the size of microscopic bacteria and virus clusters.

The air that is supplied to aircraft lavatories and cargo compartment is evacuated overboard, preventing any return of contaminated air in the cabin. The forward and aft cabin air is distributed from the top of the cabin through airflow channels integral to the passenger baggage overhead bins. It is extracted at floor level. There is no flow forward or rearward along the cabin.

As airline passengers begin to slowly get back on aircraft, this discussion can help explain how a modern airplane keeps their cabin air clean and refreshed.

New and innovative technologies featured on the A220 are also discussed in this episode.

Airbus recently opened its first A220 final assembly line at its Mobile Alabama production site, the second assembly site for the A220 in addition to its program headquarters in Mirabel, Canada.

Have suggestions or topics we should focus on in the next episode? Email the host, Woodrow Bellamy at, or drop him a line on Twitter @WbellamyIIIAC.

Listen to this episode below, or check it out on iTunes or Google Play If you like the show, subscribe on your favorite podcast app to get new episodes as soon as they're released.

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  • Thomas Nolte

    This being the case stop with masks then. Besides wearing a mask to stop a virus is like putting up a chain link fence to stop a mosquito.

  • Patric Barry

    Oh, give me a break. Does this Airbus man really expect us to believe this garbage.
    Straight talk : the cabin air comes from bleed air on the engines. The more bleed air that is taken for the cabin, the more horsepower that is lost so, by design, on every rotation of air just 1/3rd is replaced.
    He goes through this claptrap of vents at the top and vents in the floor and toilets etc, which is true, but the cabin air is only partially replaced on every rotation and viruses and bacteria get circulated throughout the cabin.
    The filters are NOT capable of removing a virus. That is a literal impossibility. Besides, they are changed every thirty days, not after every flight, if a virus was caught in a filter it would still be capable of infection for a time.
    The airline joke that if someone in first class sneezes that everyone in economy catches a cold is actually true.
    A imagine that this is designed to lull a typical passenger into believing that travel on a Scarebus is safe from Covad19, versus Boeing, perhaps? But I really object to the plain untruth of this article. It is just false. Any aircraft engineer knows this.

    • wbellamy

      Hi Patric, thanks for the feedback on this, we would be open to having you or another engineer come on and discuss if you’d like, this is one of the very reasons I do the podcast, to drive this type of debate. – Woodrow