From Pressat/ Global Cabin Air Quality Executive Ltd

Tuesday 23 March 2021

Largest conference ever held on contaminated air on aircraft concludes effective ‘bleed air’ filters and sensors should be installed on passenger jet and turboprop aircraft.

London, England.

The 2021 Aircraft Cabin Air Conference took place online via Zoom, over 4 days, from 15 to 18 March 2021 from 15:00 to 20:00 daily.

The conference saw over a dozen films shown, over 30 presenters speak ranging from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), scientist and medical experts, air accident investigators, engineers, attorneys who have or are running cases related to exposures, crew representatives bodies such as the Global Cabin Air Quality Executive (GCAQE) to companies offering potential solutions to help mitigate the contaminated air on aircraft problem, such as Pall Aerospace, BASF, PTI Technologies, Aircraft Clean Air to name a few.

Nearly 1600 delegates registered for the event. Logging in from 6 continents via Zoom, they ranged from US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) personnel, US military, Airbus, Boeing, Embraer, numerous national aviation authorities, filtration and sensing companies and experts, numerous air accident departments, synthetic lubricant manufacturers, aircraft leasing companies, legal teams, scientists & researchers, airline crews and crew unions, to representatives from over 50 airlines.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has previously stated that: “The cabin/cockpit air quality is similar or better than what is observed in normal indoor environments (offices, schools, kinder gardens or dwellings)” and “A human exposure study is the long-needed tool to provide an unequivocal and sound data set to end the misguided discussion on cabin air quality once and for all.” The validity of the EASA view was brought into question by research presented at the conference. A film screened at the conference entitled “Ultrafine Particle Levels Measured On Board Short-haul Commercial Passenger Jet Aircraft” showed that although the air quality in the cruise / steady state phase of flight (the state when engine air quality is certificated) measured very low levels of ultra fine particles (UFPs), there was a clear pattern of increased UFPs during engine power changes and aircraft air conditioning system configuration changes. Levels were reported to be 25 times higher than in a home. Unfortunately, EASA were absent from the conference with no representatives registering.

The film is available to view at:

Over the last 20 years, there have been over 50 recommendations and findings made by 12 air accident departments globally, directly related to contaminated air exposures on passenger jet aircraft. However, commercial aircraft continue to fly, with no contaminated air warning systems to notify passengers and crews when the air they are breathing is contaminated despite numerous calls to EASA by air accident investigators. However, EASA have repeatedly stated that contaminated air is not a safety issue, something crew unions strongly dispute and disagree with.

Every airline crew union representative presenting at the conference, endorsed or echoed the aims of one of the conference sponsors, the Global Cabin Air Quality Executive’s (GCAQE) ‘Clean Air Campaign’ launched in February 2021. The airline crew campaign is calling on regulators and Governments globally, to mandate the introduction of effective ‘bleed air’ filters and contaminated air warning sensors on passenger aircraft.

See: https://www.gcaqe.org/cleanair

The very successful 2021 conference which follows on from the 2017 and 2019 conferences held in London, discussed and debated primarily the design flaw that relates to the way the breathing air supply on all passenger jet aircraft (except the Boeing 787) is supplied. The breathing air is provided to passengers and crews unfiltered directly from the compression section of the engines or from the Auxiliary Power Unit (APU), a small engine in the tail of the aircraft. This is a process known as ‘bleed air,’ because it is ‘bled’ from the hot compression section of the engine. The ‘bleed air’ is not filtered and known to become contaminated with synthetic jet engine oils[1] and hydraulic fluids.

The cans of the jet engine oils and hydraulic fluid products that are contaminating the breathing air supply and to which people have been exposed state:

“Do not breathe mist or vapour from heated product”,

“Risk of causing cancer”,

“Risk of infertility”,

“Risk of neurological effects” etc… 

Conference sponsor BASF provided an informative presentation about their aviation catalytic convertors and the importance that they be maintained in accordance with manufacturer guidelines and procedures.

Further details available at:

https://catalysts.basf.com/products-and-industries/aircraft-cabin-fuel-inerting/aircraft-cabin-ozone-converters

Conference keynote speaker Pall Corporation, who were the first company globally to provide an airline with a Cockpit Filter Unit (CFU) over 10 years ago, discussed the efficiency of their HEPA filters to deal with bacteria and viruses on aircraft and gave an update on their Cabin Air Quality Sensor (CAQS). They also presented an update on their total cabin air filtration system known as a Mist and Vapour Eliminator (MaVE) filter. Both CAQS and MaVE technologies are at an advanced design phase and attracting widespread airline and industry interest.

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