Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2005 9:42 pm

Cosmic Radiation Threat To Ac?

Sat Oct 15, 2005 6:31 pm

Dear all,

I have just heard that my company is about to commence a trial on the above for pax and crew over the next 6 months (using our L1011 fleet as the test ac) as part of a health & safety drive. To this end, do any of you guys have any information of interest, or are aware of any other studies that have been made on this issue and where I may find a link to it?

Apologies if this one has been done before, but the search engine did not turn anything up.

Posts: 12661
Joined: Wed May 23, 2001 6:25 pm

RE: Cosmic Radiation Threat To Ac?

Sat Oct 15, 2005 9:12 pm

Well the Concorde fleet had through all it's service life, dosimeters fitted.
Due to the much higher cruising altitude.

However, they were never, in 27 years, triggered by cosmic or solar radiation.
Events on the ground set them off, such as over-flying the Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermarston, Berkshire, plenty of alarms on finals to the US East Coast around the time of the Three Mile Island incident in 1979, but these were at subsonic speed and normal altitudes, just that Concorde was the only civil airliner carrying detection equipment.

Every flight had the readings from this gear recorded in the tech log by the
E/O, there was usually very little difference in readings caused by the extended time at 58-60,000 feet.

Anything unusual was investigated, I remember in 1999 at JFK flight picked up a strong warning at 6000 ft, the crew informed JFK, someone panicked and the aircraft was met by the NYPD on landing!
Turned out the source was at the site of the former Republic Aviation plant.
Again, plenty of aircraft exposed, but only one knew about it.

Prior to entering service, the potential of high altitude radiation was perhaps overrated, (opponents of the aircraft, never noted for their scientific rigor, certainty made a meal of it).
So BA did briefly consider having no female cabin crew, as women are more vulnerable and their were fears of possible fertility problems.
In the event, female crew were on the fleet from the start, indeed they had a higher rate of pregnancy than other fleets, no doubt being caused by Concordes speed advantage allowing them more time on the ground!

Seriously though, over nearly 3 decades, this aircraft 'exposed' crew to potentially higher radiation levels, many crew served on the fleet for a very long time, both cockpit and cabin crew had plenty who had been on the type for much of it's life.
No adverse effects were ever detected, including from those who had served during solar maximum years like 1977/8, 1989/90.

In truth, while you were exposed to higher levels, the reduced time spent in the air on Concorde compared to subsonics, probably offset this.

So BA, AF and the equipment/instrument part of the UK Atomic Energy Authority (who supplied the equipment fitted), probably have the best database around.

Might be worth talking to them.