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What Science Knows Now About the Risk of Covid-19 Transmission on Planes

New research has uncovered when chances are higher, including during meal service. Overall risks appear to remain relatively low, but newer variants may change that equation.

Fliers have yearned for reliable data on the risks of air travel since the pandemic began. Recent research on Covid-19 transmission on flights suggests that airlines could adopt new policies to better protect their passengers.

Scientists have found a sharp increase in possible spread during in-flight meal service when everyone has masks off. They’ve also learned more about the importance of precautions during boarding and deplaning.

The chances of viral spread aboard planes remain very low. But papers published in medical journals suggest they may not be as low as suggested earlier in the pandemic.

“It’s still, at this point, safe to travel if you take proper precautions,” says Mark Gendreau, chief medical officer at Beverly Hospital near Boston and an expert in aviation medicine. “I do think it could be safer.”

Excerpt from WSJ
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Flying Taxis’ Best Ride Is to the Helicopter Market

Cabdrivers don’t need to worry about being replaced by flying cars. Helicopter makers might need to a little bit.

Vertical Aerospace, a British startup devoted to the development of electric vertical-takeoff-and-landing vehicles, or eVTOL, has just received a preorder for 25 aircraft plus an option for 25 more from Bristow Group, a U.S.-owned operator of civil helicopters, the air-taxi company told The Wall Street Journal.

Vertical, which in June struck a deal with a blank-check investment vehicle to go public, already has announced preorders and options for 1,050 vehicles. Buyers include American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic and plane lessor Avolon Holdings, which said Tuesday that it had already placed 250 of them with Gol and Grupo Comporte, a Brazilian airline and transport operator, respectively.

Excerpt from WSJ

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Southwest Airlines Cancels Over 1,800 Flights

Weekend snarl is the latest difficulty for the carrier after it struggled over the summer

Southwest Airlines Co. canceled more than 1,800 flights over the weekend, citing bad weather and air-traffic-control problems in Florida that rippled throughout its operation.

The airline canceled over 1,000 flights Sunday, or 28% of its schedule, according to FlightAware, a flight-tracking website. Over 500 flights were delayed.

The problems started Friday evening, when severe weather in Florida prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to impose an air-traffic-management program, resulting in a large number of cancellations and leaving customers and crew members out of place, an airline spokesperson said Saturday.

Southwest scrambled to reset its network Saturday, canceling more than 800 flights that day, or 24% of its operation, according to FlightAware.

Excerpt from WSJ
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Shell to Start Making Lower-Carbon Jet Fuel as Regulations Loom

Anglo-Dutch energy giant is first big oil company to disclose production, sales targets for SAF as demand from airlines ramps up

Royal Dutch Shell PLC is the first major oil company to announce targets for low-emission jet-fuel output and sales as airlines look to buy more of the fuel to meet climate-change goals and get ahead of proposed European Union regulations.

The Anglo-Dutch energy giant, a top provider of jet fuel, said it plans to produce 2 million metric tons of so-called sustainable aviation fuel a year by 2025, up from none today. It wants SAF to account for at least 10% of the jet fuel it sells by 2030, including fuel it sources from outside...

Excerpt from WSJ

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