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Aircraft Cabin Air

The air you breathe on an aircraft may not be as good as you had hoped for. Coming to this page, you probably know already. If is all new to you, read my German Memo or watch the English videos at the bottom of the page.

On this page:

related to Aircraft Cabin Air Quality / Contamination.

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1 Own Contributions

1.1 Papers, Presentations, Memos

Author Title Type of Work Delivered No of Pages Occasion Abstract Full Text Size
Dieter Scholz englisch Aircraft Cabin Air - Quality or Contamination? Presentation 20.11.17 48 Personalversammlung "Kabine"
Deutsche Lufthansa AG
Frankfurt, 20 November 2017
--- *.pdf  4.1M
Dieter Scholz deutsch Die Luft in der Kabine von Passagierflugzeugen ist nicht so gut wie oft angenommen - Hintergründe, Lösungsmöglichkeiten und deren Umsetzung Memo
(populärwissenschaftliche Darstellung)
01.10.17 4 --- --- *.pdf  329K
Dieter Scholz englisch Aircraft Cabin Air and Engine Oil - An Engineering View Preprint of Paper 14.11.17 8 International Aircraft Cabin Air Conference 2017
Imperial College London, 19 - 20 September 2017
*.html *.pdf  655K
Dieter Scholz englisch Aircraft Cabin Air and Engine Oil - An Engineering View Presentation 19.09.17 71 International Aircraft Cabin Air Conference 2017
Imperial College London, 19 - 20 September 2017
*.html *.pdf  6.0M
Dieter Scholz englisch Aircraft Cabin Air and Engine Oil - A Systems Engineering View Presentation 27.04.17 75 Hamburg Aerospace Lecture Series (HALS)
together with VC and UFO
HAW Hamburg, 27 April 2017
--- *.pdf  6.7M
Dieter Scholz englisch Aircraft Cabin Air & Water Contamination/Quality – An Aircraft Systems Engineering Perspective Presentation 01.04.14 46 QCAQE – Global Cabin Air Quality Executive
London, 31 March – 2 April 2014
--- *.pdf   37M


1.2 Videos

YouTube Playlist: Cabin Air (Uploads to YouTube by Prof. Scholz)    
YouTube Playlist: Cabin Air (Video LINKS)

englisch Presentation at the International Aircraft Cabin Air Conference 2017

deutsch Dieter Scholz im Interview bei:
ZDFzoom - Dicke Luft im Flieger (2017)

deutsch Dieter Scholz im Interview bei:
Deutschlandfunk Nova - Kabinenluft (2017)



2 Media Coverage (selected)

Die ZEIT: Gift in der Kabine?

deutsch Die ZEIT, 2017-10-19: Gift in der Kabine? (PDF), (Interview u.a. mit Prof. Scholz)
deutsch Siehe auch: ZEIT ONLINE


Sunday Times: EasyJet is First Airline to Go for Total Cabin Air Filtration

Sunday Times, 2017-09-17: Article, Video.

ORF2, KONKRET, 2017-09-22, 18:30: Video (Interview e.g. with Prof. Scholz).
ORF2, ZIB2, 2017-09-22, 22:00: Video (Interview e.g. with Prof. Scholz), Transcript.


EasyJet to go for Cabin Air Filtration in the Recirculation Path

Pall had announced already on 2016-12-05 that EasyJet would retrofit their fleet of A320 family aircraft with the latest Pall Aerospace PUREair Advanced Cabin Air Filters [in the recirculation].


3 Action

3.1 CO Detectors

Sensors have been demanded by pilots and cabin crew for years, but they are still not introduced on board. There may be good reasons for NOT introducing air quality sensors on passenger aircraft. However, every individual on an aircraft may decide to get informed and this can not be denied. Therefore, immediate action could be taken without waiting for the ultimate industry solution of the problem - which may never come. This is especially important in failure cases like fume events. Failures compromising cabin air quality may alert people on board, but it may need some kind of objective confirmation before action can be taken. Situations with cabin air quality problems could also pass unnoticed without sensing. If cabin air is contaminated, it will show a mixture of many substances. Carbon monoxide (CO) will most probably be one of these substances. Simple logic tells us that it is sufficient to trace one bad gas in an abnormal quantity to conclude that the cabin air is not ok. CO is taken from the cocktail to be measured, because inexpensive and small CO detectors are available on the market. Pilots (cabin crew, passengers) should read the carbon monoxide (CO) concentration from a personal CO detector as an objective indicator in addition to the observations from their senses (nose and eyes). It is known from CO measurements on the BAe 146 that the CO concentration will be low even in a fume event [1]. For this reason, the CO concentration should not be compared against the limit value of 50 ppm (CS 25.831), but rather against values obtained under normal conditions (e.g. 2 ppm; as a frequent flyer you will find out for yourself soon).

[1] Global Cabin Air Quality Executive: Carbon Monoxide Database Collated on 345 BAe 146 Flights in UK, 2003-2004, 2006 (access difficult, but contact GCAQE for more information if you are desperate)

Feel free to report/share your findings. E.g. take a picture of your CO detector with its reading (maybe with a fume filled cabin in the background) and report about what happened to people during that flight. We may all learn from this collected information.

I have expressed the above view in my presentations and have been asked where inexpensive(!) CO detectors can be bought. Looking on the Internet myself, I discovered these links:

Inexpensive Instant CO Sensors:
UYIGAO UA6070 CO Detector (identical to KXL-801) --- Features: loud alarm
KXL-801 CO Detector (identical to UYIGAO UA6070) --- Video Test
KKmoon GM8805 CO Detector --- Features: data hold, alarm threshold can be set. Video Test. Manual (PDF)
AS8700A CO Detector --- Features: data hold
HT-530 CO Detector --- Features: clip to attach to clothes
KXL-601 Mini CO Detector (low budget device) --- User report: "very inaccurate", "not recommended"


Affordable CO Datalogger:
Lascar Electronics EL-USB-CO300 Carbon Monoxide Datalogger



3.2 Breathing Masks

Each member of the cockpit crew is protected by one onboard oxygen mask. Oxygen comes from a bottle and is available for the rest of the flight. Cabin crew have (at best) a smoke hood for their protection. The chemical oxygen supply in the smoke hood is intended only for short duration. A private breathing mask can protect people in the cabin in the very rare event of air contamination. A breathing mask filters the air and will do so for the rest of the flight. Inexpensive are the army standard breathing masks. Buy only new masks. Germany: "Bundeswehr Schutzmaske M65" (by Dräger). Better suited is a civil mask like the "Dräger X-plore 6300 Full Mask". It has a standardized 40 mm threaded filter connection. A suitable filter would be the "Dräger X-plore A2B2E2K2HGP3". This is a "combined filter" for "organic gases and vapours" (A), "inorganic gases and vapours" (B), and other substances.

Also this information is provided here; because I have been ask for it. Cabin crew members are increasingly concerned. Some already have a personal breathing mask in their carry-on baggage or intend to do so. By asking cabin crew members to consider to carry a breathing mask (in order to be prepared for a very unlikely event), I do NOT state that cabin air can be compared to the air after an attack with chemical weapons. What I argue is only this: A breathing mask (with a suitable filter) will protect people in "harsh environments". I do NOT consider the aircraft cabin such a "harsh environment". Therefore, a breathing mask will give sufficient protection in such cases where people have (claimed to) become ill in the aircraft cabin due to (potentially) contaminated cabin air. I do not consider it right, if the employer would deny cabin crew to protect themselves in a situation where the employer (who has a legal duty to do so) does not act.


4 Education

Introduction to the Topic

The Story of the Britsh Aerospace BAe 146

The Story of Dr. Susan Michaelis -
A Young Enthusiastic Pilot Gets Ill due to Cabin Air and Starts an Academic Career on the Issue


5 Links

link International Aircraft Cabin Air Conference 2017 with all presentations.
link The Global Cabin Air Quality Executive (GCAQE) with further links.
link Aerotoxic Association with lots of information.
link Aerotoxic Logbook (ATLB) is keeping track of the discussion. By Prof. Dr. Johannes Ludwig (HAW Hamburg).

STAND:  14 February 2018
AUTHOR:  Prof. Dr. Scholz
home  Prof. Dr. Scholz
home  Aircraft Design and Systems Group (AERO)
home  Aeronautical Engineering   deutsch
home  Department of Automotive and Aeronautical Engineering  deutsch
home  Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science
home  Hamburg University of Applied Sciences