NDiesel
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Toxic Fumes On Aircraft. How Common?

Tue Jan 10, 2012 4:03 pm

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
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roseflyer
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RE: Toxic Fumes On Aircraft. How Common?

Tue Jan 10, 2012 4:35 pm

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.
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HAWK21M
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RE: Toxic Fumes On Aircraft. How Common?

Tue Jan 10, 2012 10:09 pm

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.
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wingscrubber
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RE: Toxic Fumes On Aircraft. How Common?

Thu Jan 19, 2012 7:00 pm

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]
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Viscount724
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RE: Toxic Fumes On Aircraft. How Common?

Thu Jan 19, 2012 10:52 pm

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.
 
goinv
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RE: Toxic Fumes On Aircraft. How Common?

Fri Feb 03, 2012 11:24 am

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
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dandaire
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RE: Toxic Fumes On Aircraft. How Common?

Fri Feb 03, 2012 12:48 pm

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?
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HAWK21M
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RE: Toxic Fumes On Aircraft. How Common?

Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:05 pm

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.
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roseflyer
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RE: Toxic Fumes On Aircraft. How Common?

Fri Feb 03, 2012 10:31 pm

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.
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dandaire
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RE: Toxic Fumes On Aircraft. How Common?

Sat Feb 04, 2012 12:13 pm

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!
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tdscanuck
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RE: Toxic Fumes On Aircraft. How Common?

Sat Feb 04, 2012 10:16 pm

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.

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HAWK21M
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RE: Toxic Fumes On Aircraft. How Common?

Mon Feb 06, 2012 6:01 am

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.
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CaptainKramer
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RE: Toxic Fumes On Aircraft. How Common?

Mon Feb 27, 2012 9:58 pm

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.
 
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HAWK21M
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RE: Toxic Fumes On Aircraft. How Common?

Tue Feb 28, 2012 5:06 pm

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.
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CaptainKramer
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RE: Toxic Fumes On Aircraft. How Common?

Tue Feb 28, 2012 6:25 pm

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.
 
CaptainKramer
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RE: Toxic Fumes On Aircraft. How Common?

Tue Feb 28, 2012 6:26 pm

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]
 
seven3seven
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RE: Toxic Fumes On Aircraft. How Common?

Tue Feb 28, 2012 6:50 pm

Oh we get fumes in the cockpit all the time. Depends on what we had for lunch.
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737tdi
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RE: Toxic Fumes On Aircraft. How Common?

Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:01 am

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?
 
tdscanuck
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RE: Toxic Fumes On Aircraft. How Common?

Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:35 am

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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