Senchingo
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Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Sun Sep 30, 2012 5:08 pm

Lufthansa spokesperson Michael Lamberty told the "Welt am Sonntag" that they had to change engines on several A380s because there were "smells" in the cockpit and also cabin, which could be a result of leaking oil fumes that are lead into the cabin through the engines.

Rolls Royce was confronted by LH already and issued a modification for their engines. An additional piece of metal is inserted at the drive unit to avoid that leaking oil is pumped in. Until all aircraft are fitted with this modification, LH Technik is checking for leakage every time and removing it by hand if necessary.

Furthermore, the air shall not be sucked in through the engines during start up process to avoid leaked oil reaching the cabin. This has to be checked by LBA (german civil aviation board) and manufacturers first.

Additionally LH entrusted a Fraunhofer Institute with the research of a detection device that shall be fitted into the cabin.

As per Lamberty, this is not a reaction to recent incidents involving contaminated air but going on since more than a year already. On Friday, a report about a Germanwings crew inhaling toxic air and nearly becoming unconscious was released, starting public discussion about contaminated air inside aircraft.

Source (in German):
http://www.aero.de/news-15977/Luftha...rter-Kabinenluft-bei-A380-ein.html

BFU report about Germanwings:
http://www.aero.de/news/BFU-Schwerer...-Germanwings-Anflug-auf-Koeln.html

My questions are:
Why has this problem (which seems to be related to especially A380 at the moment) not been reported by other operators?
This problem about oil fumes in cabin/cockpit is known since many years - why is it just now that LH comes up with solutions?
To the technicians amongst us: I guess, they are talking about "burnt-oil-smoke", not the oil itself being lead into cabin air. Can anyone explain where the valve for the air intake is placed - as in my understanding it must be behind some point where it's hot enough for the oil to burn?!
 
AA737-823
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Sun Sep 30, 2012 8:49 pm

Quoting senchingo (Thread starter):
To the technicians amongst us: I guess, they are talking about "burnt-oil-smoke", not the oil itself being lead into cabin air. Can anyone explain where the valve for the air intake is placed - as in my understanding it must be behind some point where it's hot enough for the oil to burn?!

The bleed for "customer air" is located in two places, typically. At low engine RPM, such as at idle while taxying or during descent, bleed air is taken from the high pressure compressor. At high RPM, such as during cruise, bleed air is taken from the low pressure compressor.
So oil, in my mind, really only has an opportunity to get into the bleed air if it's leaking past the labyrinth seals at the front end bearings.

While I am a technician, I've never really understood why this "contaminated air" is such a huge issue in Europe. It doesn't seem to be on the forefront of the news media in the US, or in the respected Asian countries, either.
 
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Stitch
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Sun Sep 30, 2012 9:12 pm

Quoting AA737-823 (Reply 1):
While I am a technician, I've never really understood why this "contaminated air" is such a huge issue in Europe. It doesn't seem to be on the forefront of the news media in the US, or in the respected Asian countries, either.

Back in 2002, Alaska Airlines flight attendants sued AlliedSignal and McDonnell Douglas claiming they were seriously sickened by toxic leaks from the APU that fouled the air of MD-80 jet cabins. They had previously sued the airline in 1998, which settled for $725,000 in 2001.
 
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n901wa
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Sun Sep 30, 2012 9:17 pm

Sounds like a issue on a A330 with Trents that had us puzzled. First they blamed the Apu, then the ducts being not fully cured, and making the smell. After we Boro the Eng, we found Oil leaking from a seal into the intermediate compressor on nbr 2 eng. We ended up changing the engine, and that fixed the problem. I am sure the issue was brought up the RR, because the Aircraft was only 3 months old, if I remember correctly.
 
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longhauler
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Sun Sep 30, 2012 9:23 pm

In the cabin, it is a "dirty sock" smell, and it had been accepted as normal.

It is only starting to come to light in the last few years how very dangerous this actually is. It can be from an oil leak into the engine bleed air, or the apu bleed air. We have been instructed to perform the smoke/fumes checklist when this smell arises!
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AA737-823
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Mon Oct 01, 2012 6:59 am

Quoting longhauler (Reply 4):
In the cabin, it is a "dirty sock" smell, and it had been accepted as normal.

Meh. On the 737s, most of the time the dirty sock smell is just due to nasty coalescer bags getting mildewy. We change them, and the smell goes away.
 
oldeuropean
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Mon Oct 01, 2012 8:35 am

Quoting senchingo (Thread starter):
(which seems to be related to especially A380 at the moment)

Same problems were reported from Air Berlin 737s and one incident with Germania:

http://avherald.com/h?article=44a16688&opt=0

[Edited 2012-10-01 01:38:06]
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dairy
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Mon Oct 01, 2012 9:41 am

and didn't they (Lufthansa) had the same problem since years with the old Avro-Jets (that now are gone?)
A318/A319/A320/A321 AB3/A306/A310/A333/A343/A346 732/733/735/736/744/752/763/764/772/773 DH3 F70 F100 CR2 CR1 CR7 ATR42
 
Clydenairways
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Mon Oct 01, 2012 12:04 pm

Quoting AA737-823 (Reply 1):

While I am a technician, I've never really understood why this "contaminated air" is such a huge issue in Europe. It doesn't seem to be on the forefront of the news media in the US, or in the respected Asian countries, either.

It was a big issue in Australia a few years back.
 
Alnicocunife
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Mon Oct 01, 2012 12:04 pm

Should not be an issue on the 787! No pneumatic usage for the A/C system.
 
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longhauler
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Mon Oct 01, 2012 3:28 pm

Quoting AA737-823 (Reply 5):
Meh. On the 737s, most of the time the dirty sock smell is just due to nasty coalescer bags getting mildewy. We change them, and the smell goes away.

With over 6000 hours on the B737, that is exactly what I thought, and what I thought for years.

Until I was recently corrected. In fact, the "dirty sock" smell occurs on aircraft that don't even have coalescer bags, like the A320 series.

If one did a search on "dirty sock smell", one would find it is a hugely serious issue, of which all air crew should be aware. It is no surprise that airlines are trying to sweep this under the rug. It was only through the efforts of our union, that got the airline to recognize its severity, and agreeing that it is a "toxic fume event" and should be dealt as such.

http://www.aerotoxic.org/about-aerotoxic-syndrome
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brilondon
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:15 pm

Quoting longhauler (Reply 4):

In the cabin, it is a "dirty sock" smell, and it had been accepted as normal.

This is not a normal smell I have encountered, although when certain people take their shoes off it takes on a horrible odour in the cabin. Fresh air is a commodity that is not very common on the aircraft. Usually the odour is always the same. BO combined with horribly cheap cologne and perfume is more of what is the stench I have encountered recently.
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Tbone354
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:33 pm

I love the smell of oil and kerosene in an aircraft cabin! Feet, vomit, cigarette smoke....no.
 
Senchingo
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:33 pm

Quoting AA737-823 (Reply 5):
Meh. On the 737s, most of the time the dirty sock smell is just due to nasty coalescer bags getting mildewy. We change them, and the smell goes away.

On longhauler's link (thanks for that BTW, pretty interesting) it is said:
"Slight leakage of oil into the cabin may be detected by smell (descriptions such as ‘sweaty socks’, ‘wet dog’, ‘vomit’, ‘sweet oily smell’ have been used)"

The thing that really got me was this:

Quoting aerotoxic.org (Reply 10):
For short exposures, the effects are usually reversible and will resolve themselves. But serious or repeated low dose exposures can lead to severe symptoms. Permanent neurological damage may be caused, which can not be recovered from. There are currently 30 UK pilots grounded due to toxic air

With such information and airlines clearly knowing about the problem, it suddenly seems almost unjustifiable to me that there is not more precaution taken by them.

Quoting AA737-823 (Reply 1):

While I am a technician, I've never really understood why this "contaminated air" is such a huge issue in Europe. It doesn't seem to be on the forefront of the news media in the US, or in the respected Asian countries, either.

Well, after reading the above website and other articles about breathing contaminated air, it seems it should be taken very seriously.
The difference about reports between EU and US/Asia can have different reasons - one of them maybe being that in certain countries the reports are withheld (i.e. China, India) while others (or their respective civil aviation board) must report every small incident (i.e. Canada, Germany, Australia). Another might be that it is not seen as a big problem at the moment for US authorities?
 
Clydenairways
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Mon Oct 01, 2012 4:44 pm

Quoting brilondon (Reply 11):

This is not a normal smell I have encountered, although when certain people take their shoes off it takes on a horrible odour in the cabin. Fresh air is a commodity that is not very common on the aircraft. Usually the odour is always the same. BO combined with horribly cheap cologne and perfume is more of what is the stench I have encountered recently.

A friend of mine who used to have a job that involved them being at the door of the jetway when the aircraft door opened, once told me this:
When meeting an arrival of a former US charter airline that operated both the L1011 and 757 on transatlantic ops, you got different smells as soon as the door was open.
The L1011 was not too bad, just stale air.
The 757 though you got a strong waft of BO,socks,sick,fart and toilet smells.
 
Alnicocunife
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Mon Oct 01, 2012 5:21 pm

Aerotoxic Syndrome first I have ever heard of it. I can see some of the concern about breathing "toxic" vapors over the long run, just like anything else long term exposure causes the most damage.

There are a couple of normative statements in the website.

"Any combination of the following may be experienced:" http://www.aerotoxic.org/index.php?o...ion=com_content&view=article&id=78
This list is long and so general as to make me wonder, it could be symptoms of anything.


http://www.aerotoxic.org/index.php?o...ion=com_content&view=article&id=78
"Some aircraft have a worse history with the worst offenders being the BAe 146, Boeing 757 and Airbus 319"

Wow no MD aircraft where the hydraulic systems leaks constantly into the APU inlet? The B757, B767 as well as the 737NG have about the same pack system utilizing "air bearings" in the pack(no oil) The APU in the B757, B767 has two compressors, one for pneumatic air and one to run the APU. Helps keep the fumes away but it does happen.

The air we breath around the airport is always dirty (millions of gallons of fuel burned). A quick look into the aircraft duct system and you will find lots of soot from other aircraft as well as debris from the ground A/C connection. You could be pumping "toxic" air into the cabin from a poorly maintained ground A/C with the engines and APU OFF.
 
yeelep
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Mon Oct 01, 2012 5:50 pm

Quoting Stitch (Reply 2):
Back in 2002, Alaska Airlines flight attendants sued AlliedSignal and McDonnell Douglas claiming they were seriously sickened by toxic leaks from the APU that fouled the air of MD-80 jet cabins.

Never understood why they went after Allied Signal, other than another deep pocket. The problem with the MD-80 is that the inlet is below the APU, so any external leakage can be drawn into the APU intake. This also includes any hydraulic leak from the wheel well. The same basic APU is used on 737 classics and it doesn't have near the problems the MD-80 had.

Quoting AA737-823 (Reply 5):
Meh. On the 737s, most of the time the dirty sock smell is just due to nasty coalescer bags getting mildewy. We change them, and the smell goes away.

Not all 737's have them. Of the models Iv'e worked on, the -200, -700, -900 has them. The -400 and -800 has a different water separator design that doesn't include coalescer bags.

Quoting longhauler (Reply 10):
With over 6000 hours on the B737, that is exactly what I thought, and what I thought for years.

Until I was recently corrected. In fact, the "dirty sock" smell occurs on aircraft that don't even have coalescer bags, like the A320 series.

Quite right, all aircraft that use bleed air that has a possibility of hot oil contamination is capable of a dirty sock smell writeup.

Quoting longhauler (Reply 4):
In the cabin, it is a "dirty sock" smell, and it had been accepted as normal.

Don't think it was ever considered normal, maybe a lower maintenance priority is more accurate.
 
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longhauler
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Mon Oct 01, 2012 6:14 pm

Quoting senchingo (Reply 13):
The difference about reports between EU and US/Asia can have different reasons - one of them maybe being that in certain countries the reports are withheld (i.e. China, India) while others (or their respective civil aviation board) must report every small incident (i.e. Canada, Germany, Australia). Another might be that it is not seen as a big problem at the moment for US authorities?

Oddly enough, it is an issue in Canada, because Canadian workers have the Government defined right to safe work. And every Canadian worker has the "Right to Refuse Dangerous Work". It is law in Canada, perhaps not so in other countries.

I say it is "odd" as this came to light to protect airline employees, Pilots and Flight Attendants ... there is no mention of Passengers' right to clean air .... although I would like to think it is implied!  

Every AC Captain is trained in this concept, and as it varies by stage of flight and the country in which it occurs, I carry a laminated copy of the flow chart. Lucky, as I ran into this last winter on a turn to FLL. On descent into FLL, we got the "dirty sock" smell as we went through various moist cloud layers. Yup, dirty coalescer bags, I thought.

On the ground, one of the F/A's asked if she could talk to me. She said she was exercising her "Right to Refuse Dangerous Work". I pulled out the flow chart, and saw that in North America, and on the ground, she is to call her own Duty Manager and advise me of her intentions. She then mentioned the "dirty sock" smell, and I of course told her it was just a dirty coalescer bag, and we'll get it fixed in YYZ. She told me of this "toxic fume" story she heard, and it was the first time I had heard of it!

She decided to return to YYZ with us, on the promise that I would in fact tell Maintenance on the way north. I sent a data-link on the way north. My first indication of how severe this issue is, was when the response was that they were grounding the aircraft in YYZ, and asked if the crew would stay with the aircraft on arrival so we could fill out "statements"! (Say what you want about AC, but Safety is still Number One)

A few weeks later, we were all advised that we were to treat the "dirty sock" smell as a Toxic Fume event!
Just because I stopped arguing, doesn't mean I think you are right. It just means I gave up!
 
Senchingo
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Tue Oct 02, 2012 12:31 am

Quoting longhauler (Reply 17):

Thanks for the feedback. Maybe i was not getting clear about the fact that indeed Canada is one of the countries with the highest/best covered reporting systems regarding incidents.
Glad to hear that AC is top notch when it comes to safety.

One thing i'd like to mention again is that LH is not a specific operator to have contamination problems. This report was just about LH aproaching the problem and taking it serious, which i appreciate very much.

Next questions:
As far as i know, during deicing cockpit crews are asked to switch off bleed air to avoid contamination with deicing liquid. Is this what LH also plans to do while spooling up engines for start? Why does LBA have any decision right when it comes to this procedure? Isn't it some kind of "operators variation"?
Does anyone have deeper insight if other airlines also take some kind of precaution regarding oil fumes?
 
tdscanuck
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:16 am

Quoting Alnicocunife (Reply 9):
Should not be an issue on the 787! No pneumatic usage for the A/C system.

The 787 A/C system is still pneumatic, it just doesn't get bleed air from the engines. The pneumatic source is four electric cabin air compressors located in the wing-to-body fairing (the two intakes are the big "supercharger" inlets just above the ram air inlets). Since the air compressors use air bearings, not oil, they have no internal oil leakage risk.

Part of the issue with "aerotoxic syndrome" is that it's *very* strongly correlated with flight crew/airline labour friction. Whether this is a coincidence or causal is open for extremely wide debate.

Tom.
 
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longhauler
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Tue Oct 02, 2012 3:38 pm

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 19):
Part of the issue with "aerotoxic syndrome" is that it's *very* strongly correlated with flight crew/airline labour friction. Whether this is a coincidence or causal is open for extremely wide debate.

So are you suggesting that the THOUSANDS of documented cases of ... tingling fingers, paralysis, nausea, dizziness, passing out, disorientation, etc. are the result of some sort of "job action"? Extraordinary!

I would expect something like that from an ill-informed airline. As this may/will cause delays and maintenance issues. It would be far easier to just dismiss it as the result of unhappy employees.

However ... it doesn't take very long for someone with a computer, and Internet access to sift through all the reports to see that this is a an issue that needs to be addressed. How serious it is, will come from investigation, but so far ... it looks pretty serious. I am not saying "the sky is falling" just that sometimes, very serious and dangerous issues in aviation start and come to light in such a way.

I can also use my own airline as an example. It is no secret that company/employee relations have been strained over the last few years. However, when this came to light, both sides quickly stepped up, set up an investigative committee and new SOPs were developed. BOTH sides ... not one side forcing the other!
Just because I stopped arguing, doesn't mean I think you are right. It just means I gave up!
 
tdscanuck
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Tue Oct 02, 2012 6:11 pm

Quoting longhauler (Reply 20):
So are you suggesting that the THOUSANDS of documented cases of ... tingling fingers, paralysis, nausea, dizziness, passing out, disorientation, etc. are the result of some sort of "job action"?

No, I'm making an observation about a pattern in the data. Your guess is as good as mine as to whether that pattern is real, coincidence, or they're both correlated to something else.

Keep in mind, given the number of flight & cabin crews around the world, the number of flights, and the fact that it's a common-mode failure, "THOUSANDS" is actually a relatively small N with respect to the overall population.

Quoting longhauler (Reply 20):
Extraordinary!

Yes, that level of correlation absent causation is extraordinary. It certainly bears investigation.

Quoting longhauler (Reply 20):
However ... it doesn't take very long for someone with a computer, and Internet access to sift through all the reports to see that this is a an issue that needs to be addressed.

The problem, right now, is that the vast majority of reports (of both incidents and symptoms) are anecdotal, we don't have any idea of the reporting frequency, so we don't know how many non-events happened. As a result, going through internet reports isn't at all helpful (it's a self-selecting data set).

Tom.
 
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longhauler
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Tue Oct 02, 2012 8:05 pm

Quoting tdscanuck (Reply 21):
The problem, right now, is that the vast majority of reports (of both incidents and symptoms) are anecdotal, we don't have any idea of the reporting frequency, so we don't know how many non-events happened. As a result, going through Internet reports isn't at all helpful (it's a self-selecting data set).

Yes, if one ignored the reports that did not back one's position. However, as I am on one side of the committee I mentioned, the thousands of reports I mentioned are not anecdotal, as they are actual reports reported through official safety committees of various governmental bodies around the world. Of those countries that so report.

But with regard to numbers, you are right. Even of those crew-members (and passengers) that were affected, there are millions that are not. And ... to make investigation more difficult, is that not everyone on the same aircraft when the event occurs is affected.

Also, as I said previously, I have been smelling the "dirty sock" smell for decades. I'd like to think I haven't been affected.  

The point I am making though, is that while these investigations are on-going, we really don't know how severe the consequences, or what actions should be taken right now. The only remedy right now is to ground the aircraft, and fix the oil leak. To date, my airline has only had to do that three times, an A319, an A320 and a B767-300.

And, I can assure you, this has nothing to do with "job action" nor "labour friction".
Just because I stopped arguing, doesn't mean I think you are right. It just means I gave up!
 
prebennorholm
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Wed Oct 03, 2012 1:33 am

Today a KLM B737 going AMS - SVG diverted to BLL due to smell in the cabin.

Pax told TV news that it was stinking really awfully. But there was no mention of "dirty socks".

Doctors were called to BLL to check the circumstances, but they found no serious problems. All 53 pax were eager to get re-booked for the last half on their journey on a less smelly plane.
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Ruscoe
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Thu Oct 04, 2012 1:09 am

Quoting longhauler (Reply 20):
So are you suggesting that the THOUSANDS of documented cases of ... tingling fingers, paralysis, nausea, dizziness, passing out, disorientation, etc. are the result of some sort of "job action"? Extraordinary!

The mechanism is that once a known problem (in this case fumes in the cabin), is detected it increases anxiety in some people..
In some people increased anxiety leads to hyperventilation.
This causes CO2 to be reduced in the blood, and the ph of the blood changes.
This results in various symptoms such a light headedness, and if the hyperventilation is severe will result in tingling of the fingers and toes, followed by tingling around the mouth, followed in the extreme by spasm in the hands, and if the hyperventilation continues, loss of consciousness, which of course fixes the problem.

The hyperventilation does not have to be obvious to get mild symptoms, and the person affected, and others around them may not notice it, and hence attribute the symptoms to the fumes, when there may be this other contributing cause..

This is why doctors sometimes get people to breath into a bag, to increase the CO2 in their blood and move the ph towards normal. By the way this rebreathing is dangerous so don't try it yourself unsupervised by someone who knows what they are doing.

Of course the whole thing could also be due to the toxic fumes, directly, I am just offering a potential alternative.

Cheers

Ruscoe
 
strfyr51
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Thu Oct 04, 2012 3:22 am

This is Not a unique problem to the A380. Oil leaking into the engine bleed system has happened before with Rolls, Pratt and GE. The only airplane it might be unique to NOT happen to is the 787 where there is no Engine Bleed air used in the air cycle system at all. Unfortunately with 4 engines the only way to find the problem is to inspect each engine for oil in the ducts. test fly the airplane and ascertain where the oil smell is coming from which might include shutting down engines.
which cannot be accomplished on a revenue flight. In times past there were bleed checks that isolated gearbox pressure air but with today's advanced engines that's no longer possible. So? Open ducts, change filters and ground run engines until the leak is found. hopefully the smell hasn't permeated the cabin air ducting system. The A380 is a BIG airplane to start breaking into cabin Ducts. A task I would not relish AT ALL!!
 
Senchingo
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:22 pm

Now German Minister for Traffic Peter Ramsauer wants to bring this topic up to Brussels in order to make it a European wide topic.

German newspaper "Der Spiegel" reported that 2 years ago LBA (Civil Aviation Authority) issued a bulletin stating that Airlines would not report sufficiently about incidents involving contaminated air.

LH Spokesman Michael Lamberty strongly denied that, saying LH sticks to rules and regulations and reports what has to be reported.

Pilots Union "Cockpit" spokesperson Joerg Handwerg told Focus Magazine there were up to 10 contamination incidents per week within German carriers, but "since there was never a crash because of that, manufacturers just acknowledge them". Lamberty replied they don't know where Handwerg got these numbers from.

I'm curious how Brussels will react now.
 
strfyr51
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RE: Contaminated Cabin Air On (LH) A380

Mon Oct 08, 2012 11:00 pm

Quoting longhauler (Reply 10):

Are you sure it was ONLY a dirty sock smekk and not as well Acrid?? The Dirty sock smell is usually associated with a SKYDROL Hydreu;oc fluid leak into the Air Cond. system. ( Airline Mechanics use "Skydrol" as a Generic Term but it refers to Monsanto "SKYDROL" Phosphate-Esther based Hydraulic Fluid. The same type fluid is made by Chevron and marketed as "Hyjet IV ". but evidence of a dirty sock smell could be an indication of a Hydraulic leak. Both the Boeings and Aiirbus airplanes have Hydralic lines routed thru the Air conditioning bays and even in the Wing Fuel tanks. A Hydraulic leak in the AC bay might have seeped into the Air Cycle Machine for the Air Cond. System OR if the leak is in the wing it remotely might have gotten into the Bleed system causing the Dirty sock smell . I think it Will take some investigation as the smell could as well be engine Oil related. BP 2197 turbine oil smells like that right out of the can. but has superior viscosity ratings at extreme trmperatures.

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