The air supply in the cabin is sourced from the surrounding atmosphere, first entering the aircraft through the engine where it is compressed and temperature controlled. As there is a limited supply of breathable air in the cabin at one time and some of it may be recycled, it is crucial that there are filters in place to maintain cleanliness. Cabin air filters are a common element of private and commercial aircraft alike, and they are filtration devices tasked with contaminate removal as air passes through systems and the fuselage.
When air is initially drawn into the engine for compression, there may be a variety of foreign substances that enter alongside it. Contaminates can come in many forms, often being particles of dust, pollen, dirt, dander, germs, and mold. While dirt or other similar particulates may only bring the danger of allergies or less than perfect purity, other contaminants like mold and germs are much more hazardous with their ability to cause sickness and other issues. As aircraft may have many passengers grouped together in a sealed environment for hours at a time, it is paramount that high-quality air filters are in place for the means of deterring the risk of airborne illnesses sourcing from sick passengers. Additionally, with half of the air supply in a cabin being recirculated for reuse, older air must be filtered to prevent it from becoming stale.
Depending on the aircraft in question and the needs for a cabin, there are various types of cabin air filters that one may utilize. For example, some cabin air filters may actually be washable, meaning that they can be cleaned for reuse instead of disposed of when they become more clogged or dirty. These types of cabin air filters are most commonly found in private or smaller aircraft, and they may be cleaned through the use of water and soap. To ensure reuse, washable cabin air filters are constructed from more rigorous materials as compared to the pleated paper and rigid cardboard frame design of standard disposable options.
The final common type of cabin air filter is the high-efficiency particulate absorbing (HEPA) variation, that of which is the most premium and reliable option one can get their hands on. While HEPA cabin air filters perform the standard role of any filter in removing contaminants, their design ensures the capture of particles that are small enough to pass through most other designs. With this, they are much more capable of preventing the spread of illnesses in cabins, making them a common choice for passenger aircraft for the increased concern and need for cleanliness.
Whether you are taking advantage of a cabin filter that is of the disposable, washable, or HEPA variety, all will be bound to a particular service life that must be abided by. When you first install an air filter, make sure to refer to any manufacturer documentation that denotes how often the filter should be replaced so that you are prepared when it comes time to begin sourcing. To save yourself time and money on all your various aviation needs, utilize an industry leader like NSN Fulfillment for purchasing!
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