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Airbus 330 Cabin Fumes Again... ¿ Still Unsolved?

Wed Jul 11, 2012 10:36 pm

Ok, some months ago this problem with the cabin fumes and bad odours in the A330 was discussed, but that time the big majority of the affected airplanes were of German airlines ( Air Berlin had two incidents in a short period of time ), and IIRC some of the members here stated that the whole thing was more political than real, and the crews were basically simulating sickness.
But this kind of incidents are still happening, more frequently in this type than in any other models, and this last incident of 10th July affected a US Airways plane ( diverted to PHL ), so nothing to do with Germany.
Why this problem has not yet been solved ? Is that expensive ? Is the work to fix this very complicated ? The costs of diverted planes and cancelled flights for the airlines using the type will end in a bad reputation for the A330. Airbus should do something about this before more incidents arise.



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RE: Airbus 330 Cabin Fumes Again... ¿ Still Unsolved?

Wed Jul 11, 2012 11:17 pm

Fumes in the cabin are a fact of aviation. They happen on almost all airplanes. The only airplane likely immune to some degree is the 787 since it’s pneumatic system is very different.

There are multiple interfaces with the bleed air system that can get into cabin air. One example is bleed air is used to pressurize hydraulic tanks, and a failed check valve can cause fumes to enter into the cabin. Oil fumes, de-icing fumes, burned electrical equipment, failed galley equipment, etc can all get into the cabin. What makes it worse is that it is very hard to troubleshoot fumes in the cabin from a maintenance perspective. Engine runs are often required and it can be a challenge to find the source. Sometimes it is never found and the fumes go away as mysteriously as they appeared.

In reality, there’s a diversion for fumes in the cabin on a weekly basis somewhere in the world. It’s not isolated to the A330. I’d suspect that it’s far more common on the A320 since there are more in service. I think it is just coincidence that you happened to read about it on A330s in the news.

As far as the political side. Flight attendants and pilots are the ones most aware of the concern. They also don’t have as much fresh air where they are working in the airplane, so the flight attendants are more susceptible. And of course you have crews that are unionized claiming all sorts of things as part of industrial action.
If you have never designed an airplane part before, let the real designers do the work!