Transport of expiratory droplets in an aircraft cabin

Jitendra K. Gupta, Chao Hsin Lin, Qingyan Chen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

165 Citations (Scopus)


The droplets exhaled by an index patient with infectious disease such as influenza or tuberculosis may be the carriers of contagious agents. Indoor environments such as the airliner cabins may be susceptible to infection from such airborne contagious agents. The present investigation computed the transport of the droplets exhaled by the index patient seated in the middle of a seven-row, twin-aisle, fully occupied cabin using the CFD simulations. The droplets exhaled were from a single cough, a single breath, and a 15-s talk of the index patient. The expiratory droplets were tracked by using Lagrangian method, and their evaporation was modeled. It was found that the bulk airflow pattern in the cabin played the most important role on the droplet transport. The droplets were contained in the row before, at, and after the index patient within 30 s and dispersed uniformly to all the seven rows in 4 minutes. The total airborne droplet fraction reduced to 48, 32, 20, and 12% after they entered the cabin for 1, 2, 3, and 4 min, respectively, because of the ventilation from the environmental control system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-11
Number of pages9
JournalIndoor Air
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2011


  • Computational fluid dynamics
  • Dispersion
  • Exhalation
  • Infectious disease
  • Particle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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