Evaluation of different air distribution systems in a commercial airliner cabin in terms of comfort and COVID-19 infection risk

Mingxin Liu, Junjie Liu, Qing Cao, Xingyang Li, Sumei Liu, Shengcheng Ji, Chao Hsin Lin, Daniel Wei, Xiong Shen, Zhengwei Long, Qingyan Chen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


The air distribution system in an airliner plays a key role in maintaining a comfortable and healthy environment in the aircraft cabin. To evaluate the performance of a novel displacement ventilation (DV) system and a traditional mixing ventilation (MV) system in an airliner cabin, this study conducted experiments and simulations in a seven-row cabin mockup. This investigation used ultrasonic anemometers and T-thermocouples to measure the air velocity, temperature and distribution of 1 μm and 5 μm particles. Simulation verifications were performed for these operating conditions, and additional scenarios with different occurrence source locations were also simulated. This study combined the Wells-Riley equation with a real case based on a COVID-19 outbreak among passengers on a long-distance bus to obtain the COVID-19 quanta value. Through an evaluation of the airflow organization, thermal comfort, and risk of COVID-19 infection, the two ventilation systems were compared. This investigation found that polydisperse particles should be used to calculate the risk of infection in airliner cabins. In addition, at the beginning of the pandemic, the infection risk with DV was lower than that with MV. In the middle and late stages of the epidemic, the infection risk with MV can be reduced when passengers wear masks, leading to an infection risk approximately equal to that of DV.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108590
JournalBuilding and Environment
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2022


  • Airliner cabin
  • Displacement ventilation
  • Effect of masks
  • Infection risk
  • Mixing ventilation
  • Thermal comfort

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Building and Construction


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