SYMPOSIA PAPER Published: 01 January 2000

The Airplane Cabin Environment: Past, Present and Future Research


The purpose of this paper is to review current information on the airplane cabin environment and other factors that affect passenger and flight attendant comfort and health-related symptoms, and to discuss the need for future research. The paper begins with a discussion of cabin environmental issues reported since the start of large commercial transport category aircraft in the 1930s until the present. Next, the effect of cabin environmental factors in combination with individual and job-related factors are discussed. These multiple factors are the likely predominant influences for flight attendant and passenger perceptions of the cabin environment. The last section discusses possible future research aimed toward improvement of cabin environment comfort given our current understanding and the need to involve airplane manufacturers, airlines, flight attendants and passengers. The comprehensive research would need to include chamber studies designed to evaluate tradeoffs between recirculation rates, humidity, air velocities and temperature; and inflight studies utilizing questionnaires and objective measurement techniques to evaluate multiple factors on passenger and flight attendant comfort and health-related symptoms.

Author Information

Space, DR
Boeing Commercial Airplane Group, Seattle, WA
Johnson, RA
Environmental Control Systems, Boeing Commercial Airplane Group, Seattle, WA
Rankin, WL
Human Factors Engineering, Boeing Commercial Airplane Group, Seattle, WA
Nagda, NL
ENERGEN Consulting, Inc., Germantown, MD
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Developed by Committee: D22
Pages: 189–214
DOI: 10.1520/STP14495S
ISBN-EB: 978-0-8031-5441-4
ISBN-13: 978-0-8031-2866-8