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Toxic Fumes On Aircraft. How Common?  
User currently offlineNDiesel From United States of America, joined Mar 2011, 81 posts, RR: 0
Posted (2 years 6 months 3 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago) and read 6605 times:

Hi everyone,

This morning I read an article in Norwegian newspaper VG about the BA A321 which made an emergency landing at LHR due to both pilots seemingly being "close to fainting." Luckily they managed to land safely, yet the story is similar to many other stories about pilots, cabin crew and/or passengers getting knocked out by toxic fumes such as organophosphate from the engines introduced into the A/C.

The article focuses on what is known to be the aircraft mostly related to such incidents, the BAe 146, yet as previously mentioned, this time it was an A321. Unions have also claimed the B757 to be vulnerable as stated in this article from DM. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/ar...es-linked-brain-damage-pilots.html

My question is, how many of you out there have experienced something similar, either as aircraft crew or pax? Does it happen more commonly than what is officially known, and are there other plane types in addition to the aforementioned that are susceptible to toxic fumes entering the cabin?

NDiesel


Delta MD-11 JFK-CDG - Upon sunrise I fell in love with Aviation
18 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineRoseFlyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9511 posts, RR: 52
Reply 1, posted (2 years 6 months 3 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 6573 times:

Fumes in the cabin must be reported to the FAA or EASA as they are items that affect safety. There are many different causes, but commonly it is oil and hydraulic fluid fumes. For example, most hydraulic reservoirs are pneumatically pressurized. Typically it is two small check valves that prevent fluid or vapor from entering back into the air system. If these fail or leak, fumes are noted in the cabin. While not common, it does happen with some frequency. The fumes won't kill you, but are very unpleasant and create a burning sensation. Any mechanic who has been around airplanes for a while knows what it is like to get blasted by skydrol.


If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31667 posts, RR: 56
Reply 2, posted (2 years 6 months 3 weeks 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 6396 times:

The RB211-535Cs had this problem of oil fumes entering the Flight Deck/Cockpit on TO thrust.This was tackled by an Advisory to Mx to reduce the oil uplift by 2-3qts.


Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlinewingscrubber From UK - England, joined Sep 2001, 845 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (2 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 5990 times:

I think I might have posted this before, but this website is a good resource for aerotoxic events.
http://www.aerotoxic.org/news-and-articles/fume-event-incident-reports

I agree with Roseflyers explanation, hydraulic fumes from bleed-air pressurized reservoirs are one source, another is engine oil, or another yet more common fume source (but tolerated usually) is engine/APU exhaust ingestion on the ground. Aircraft cabins always stink of diesel/kerosene fumes to me.

Thinking about it, if you want to avoid a hydraulic fume event, you're best off flying in a CRJ, ERJ, MD-80, DC-10/MD-11, L1011 Tristar or better yet a Boeing 787 - they have bootstrap reservoirs.

The 787 is the gold standard now touted by the aerotoxic-conscious folks because it doesn't use any bleed air for pressurization and has electric compressors instead, but there's still nothing to prevent diesel fumes getting into the cabin when ground running!

[Edited 2012-01-19 11:03:56]

[Edited 2012-01-19 11:05:38]


Resident TechOps Troll
User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 24917 posts, RR: 22
Reply 4, posted (2 years 6 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 5954 times:

Quoting RoseFlyer (Reply 1):
Fumes in the cabin must be reported to the FAA or EASA as they are items that affect safety. There are many different causes, but commonly it is oil and hydraulic fluid fumes.

Also deicing fluid. Excerpt below from January 13 item in the Transport Canada daily occurrence reports. I've seen other similar reports in the past.

The Pinnacle Airlines, Inc. Bombardier CL-600-2B19 (RJ100) Regional Jet aircraft (operating as Delta Connection flight FLG4089) was departing on a scheduled IFR flight from Ottawa (CYOW) to Detroit (KDTW). NAV CANADA staff at Ottawa Tower advised that the flight crew conducted a rejected take-off on runway 25 due to smoke in the cockpit. ARFF services responded but the problem was resolved by the flight crew and the aircraft returned to the gate.
UPDATE Supplemental information received from T.S.B. Daily Notification [#A11O0246]: The Bombardier Regional Jet, N8721B, operating as flight 4089 was departing Ottawa for Detroit. During the take-off roll, smoke began to enter the cockpit and the take-off was aborted at approximately 100kts. The smoke quickly dissipated once the aircraft came to a stop and the flight crew taxied the aircraft back to the gate, escorted by emergency vehicles. Maintenance determined that the smoke was due to glycol entering the air conditioning packs.


User currently offlinegoinv From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 264 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (2 years 6 months 19 hours ago) and read 5462 times:

No idea what caused it but during both instances that my wife and I have flown with jet2.com (737-300) we have suffered breathing problems both during and after the flight.

We've both used 737-300 aircraft from other airlines (last trip Sep 2011) and never had a problem



Be who you are, The world was made to measure for your smile. So Smile.
User currently offlinedandaire From UK - Wales, joined Jul 2008, 65 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (2 years 6 months 18 hours ago) and read 5445 times:

Quoting wingscrubber (Reply 3):
The 787 is the gold standard now touted by the aerotoxic-conscious folks because it doesn't use any bleed air for pressurization and has electric compressors instead

What happens if the compressor's leak oil, assuming they use some kind of lubrication? A compressor can contaminate an air con/pressurisation system too can't it?



Old age and treachery will triumph over youth and skill.
User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31667 posts, RR: 56
Reply 7, posted (2 years 6 months 9 hours ago) and read 5391 times:

Quoting dandaire (Reply 6):
What happens if the compressor's leak oil, assuming they use some kind of lubrication? A compressor can contaminate an air con/pressurisation system too can't it?

Unless the Pneumatic supply by the compressors flows over the oil,this will not be a possibility.



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineRoseflyer From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 9511 posts, RR: 52
Reply 8, posted (2 years 6 months 8 hours ago) and read 5388 times:

Quoting dandaire (Reply 6):

What happens if the compressor's leak oil, assuming they use some kind of lubrication? A compressor can contaminate an air con/pressurisation system too can't it?

Using a compressor is nothing like having the flow to or through areas of fumes. 2 check valves are all that prevent hydraulic fumes from entering the cabin. To get fumes with a compressor, you'd have to have a pretty catastrophic failure since fans and pumps do not typically cause fumes. A 10 gallon tank of 75% hydraulic fluid and 25% pressurized bleed air is what can easily cause fumes if a piece of dirt gets caught in a check valve. It is always possible that there will be fumes in the 787, but it is less likely than airplanes using the traditional bleed air setup.

Quoting goinv (Reply 5):
No idea what caused it but during both instances that my wife and I have flown with jet2.com (737-300) we have suffered breathing problems both during and after the flight.

It might have been a specific plane or bad luck. It's not the 737-300 as a whole. Except in the event of mechanical malfunction as described earlier, all airplanes have a minimum amount of fresh air. If the pilots do not close off the correct valves when the tail of an airplane is being de-iced will cause, the cabin will fill with fumes.



If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!
User currently offlinedandaire From UK - Wales, joined Jul 2008, 65 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (2 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 5305 times:

Quoting HAWK21M (Reply 7):
Unless the Pneumatic supply by the compressors flows over the oil,this will not be a possibility.
Quoting Roseflyer (Reply 8):
Using a compressor is nothing like having the flow to or through areas of fumes.



ECS compressors are not a new thing, if these compressors have a lubrication system they will have oil seals and oil seals fail. It is the oil seals in the compressor section of the engine that are failing now and contaminating the bleed air with oil. Older aircraft had compressors instead of bleed air and they used to leak oil and contaminate the cabins and cockpits with smoke as discussed here in a previous thread.

787 Electric-Compressor Pressurization (by Redcordes Jun 7 2006 in Tech Ops)

Quote:

Quoting TristarSteve (Reply 10):
It had Rootes blowers to supply cabin air

VC10 Reply 12
"We always called the VC-10 blowers "Godfrey Blowers" as Godfrey was the name of the manufacturer. They were Helical screws meshed together and in the early days constantly had oil leaks which was the main cause of air conditioning smoke on the flight deck".

 Wow!



Old age and treachery will triumph over youth and skill.
User currently offlinetdscanuck From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 12709 posts, RR: 80
Reply 10, posted (2 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 5248 times:

Quoting dandaire (Reply 9):

ECS compressors are not a new thing, if these compressors have a lubrication system they will have oil seals and oil seals fail.

And the lord said, "Let there be air bearings!". And lo, the air was good.

Tom.


User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31667 posts, RR: 56
Reply 11, posted (2 years 5 months 4 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 5122 times:

RB211-535Cs had oil fumes in the Flight deck issues,when finally solved by reducing the oil full qty at despatch from 19-20 to 17-18.
This was not prevalent in the RB211-535E4s.



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineCaptainKramer From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2012, 225 posts, RR: 0
Reply 12, posted (2 years 5 months 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 4359 times:

I was on a Jetstar A320 flight from Townsville to Sydney. We taxied to the terminal after landing, it was after they had shut the engines down, I got a good whiff of what smelled like petrol fumes as I was getting up from my window seat. It lasted a moment and did not linger, but it was unmistakeable. I waited for everyone to leave to ask the cabin crew if I could visit the flightdeck. They agreed. While chatting to the co-pilot who was good enough to stay behind I completely forgot to mention what had just happened. I fly extensively and this was the only time I have smelt fumes of that nature.

User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31667 posts, RR: 56
Reply 13, posted (2 years 5 months 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 4269 times:

Quoting CaptainKramer (Reply 12):
I got a good whiff of what smelled like petrol fumes as I was getting up from my window seat.

Do you mean ATF [Kerosene] smell,as A320s does not use petrol.



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineCaptainKramer From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2012, 225 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (2 years 5 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 4258 times:

Yes, as I am more familiar with the smell of petrol I used that analogy, but it is a smell that certainly grabs your attention, but it was so brief a whiff I did not feel nauseas.

User currently offlineCaptainKramer From United Kingdom, joined Feb 2012, 225 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (2 years 5 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 4258 times:

Yes, as I am more familiar with the smell of petrol I used that analogy, it is a smell that certainly grabs your attention, but it was so brief a whiff I did not feel nauseas.

I had a window seat port side about halfway between overwing and rear exits.

[Edited 2012-02-28 10:28:31]

User currently offlineseven3seven From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 317 posts, RR: 23
Reply 16, posted (2 years 5 months 5 days 12 hours ago) and read 4251 times:

Oh we get fumes in the cockpit all the time. Depends on what we had for lunch.


My views are mine alone and are not that of any of my fellow employees, officers, or directors at my company
User currently offline737tdi From United States of America, joined Sep 2007, 796 posts, RR: 1
Reply 17, posted (2 years 5 months 5 days ago) and read 4201 times:
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Quoting Roseflyer (Reply 8):
A 10 gallon tank of 75% hydraulic fluid and 25% pressurized bleed air is what can easily cause fumes if a piece of dirt gets caught in a check valve. It is always possible that there will be fumes in the 787, but it is less likely than airplanes using the traditional bleed air setup.




Rose: I wouldn't think that the 787 would use any type of engine/apu bleed air to pressurize the hyd. reservoirs. Boeing has concentrated so hard on not using engine bleed air at all. I would have thought they would use an electric/pneumatic pump, except maybe in a electrical emergency. I would think that would be an easy engineering feat, remove the customer air completely from the hyd. system?


User currently offlinetdscanuck From Canada, joined Jan 2006, 12709 posts, RR: 80
Reply 18, posted (2 years 5 months 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 4144 times:

Quoting 737tdi (Reply 17):
I wouldn't think that the 787 would use any type of engine/apu bleed air to pressurize the hyd. reservoirs. Boeing has concentrated so hard on not using engine bleed air at all.

The 787 hydraulic reservoirs are bootstrap reservoirs...they use the pressure of the hydraulics system itself (either the pump or accumulator) to pressurize the reservoir. No bleed air.

There are bleed air taps on a 787 engine...the engine itself uses bleed air for some internal functions and the nacelle anti-ice is still pneumatic (since it's such a short and contained duct run).

Tom.


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