Embraer has finished designing a solution for ERJ145 operators who wish to fit high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to their aircraft. The product will become available to operators from mid-December onwards, should they choose to take advantage of it.
Earlier this year, HEPA filters were all the rage as airlines worked to show the steps they were taking to reduce virus transmission. However, not all aircraft are created equally, and not all aircraft have HEPA filters as standard. One of these aircraft that doesn’t feature HEPA filters is the Embraer ERJ145, used by both American Eagle and United Express, among other operators.
Retrofit HEPA filters
Embraer has spent the past five and a half months working to make it possible to install HEPA filters on the ERJ145. The manufacturer first had to select the filter that it would use before then developing a kit to make it fit in the ERJ145 and creating a service bulletin explaining how to fit the filters.
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The manufacturer is currently creating its first batch of 70 kits to allow HEPA filters to be retrofitted on the aircraft. It didn’t specify who these initial kits would go to but did state that deliveries should begin in mid-December. HEPA filters are already standard on the larger E-jet and E2-jet families. However, the manufacturer is also planning kits for the ERJ135 and ERJ140.
Commenting on the solution, Johann Bordais, President and CEO of Embraer Services & Support, 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.”
What is a HEPA filter?
By now, most readers may be reasonably confident about what a HEPA filter is. However, in case you’re not, we thought we’d explain why Embraer is going to the effort to fit these to its aircraft.
HEPA filters aren’t unique to aircraft. Indeed, they can be found in hospitals and vacuum cleaners. The filters use sheets of randomly arranged fibers to capture and trap particles from the air. In addition to the dust that may be in the air, they can also capture 99.97% of airborne particles and other biological contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Viruses are the big one that we care about. You could think of a HEPA filter as working as a sizeable surgical face mask. However, instead of wearing in on your face, the aircraft’s entire air system runs through it. The COVID-19 virus itself isn’t airborne. Instead, it travels through the air in droplets.
Even if the virus may have gotten through the HEPA filter, the droplet would almost certainly be stopped. You can read a much more detailed explanation in another Simple Flying article.
Did you know that the ERJ145 didn’t have HEPA filters? How do you feel that Embraer is working to install them? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!