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Indoor Air. 2016 Jun;26(3):478-88. doi: 10.1111/ina.12211. Epub 2015 Apr 25.

Characterization of the frequency and nature of bleed air contamination events in commercial aircraft.

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Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Department, Kansas State University, Manhattan, KS, USA.


Contamination of the bleed air used to pressurize and ventilate aircraft cabins is of concern due to the potential health and safety hazards for passengers and crew. Databases from the Federal Aviation Administration, NASA, and other sources were examined in detail to determine the frequency of bleed air contamination incidents. The frequency was examined on an aircraft model basis with the intent of identifying aircraft make and models with elevated frequencies of contamination events. The reported results herein may help investigators to focus future studies of bleed air contamination incidents on smaller number of aircrafts. Incident frequency was normalized by the number of aircraft, number of flights, and flight hours for each model to account for the large variations in the number of aircraft of different models. The focus of the study was on aircraft models that are currently in service and are used by major airlines in the United States. Incidents examined in this study include those related to smoke, oil odors, fumes, and any symptom that might be related to exposure to such contamination, reported by crew members, between 2007 and 2012, for US-based carriers for domestic flights and all international flights that either originated or terminated in the US. In addition to the reported frequency of incidents for different aircraft models, the analysis attempted to identify propulsion engines and auxiliary power units associated with aircrafts that had higher frequencies of incidents. While substantial variations were found in frequency of incidents, it was found that the contamination events were widely distributed across nearly all common models of aircraft.


Air contamination; Aircraft cabin; Aircraft safety; Bleed air; Fume event; Passenger health

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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