Title

Smoke, fire, and fumes without the smoke and fire: An emergency checklist for fumes

Presenter Email

erictellmann@gmail.com

Submission Type

Abstract - Paper/Presentation Only

Topic Area

Challenges and opportunities for pilots; Aviation Safety

Keywords

fume event, emergency checklist, pilot training

Abstract

According to a published review of online fume event databases, U.S. airlines report an average of 5.3 oil/hydraulic fluid fume events per day. A fume event happens when oil or hydraulic fluid gets ingested into the either auxiliary power unit (APU) or engine, is heated, and then contaminates the unfiltered bleed air supplied to the cabin and flight deck for ventilation. The odor associated with oil fumes is often described as “dirty socks” and, in some cases, a visible haze or smoke may be present, although usually it is “just” a bad smell sourced to the air supply vents. The objectives of this presentation are to highlight both the flight safety implications of pilots inhaling oil fumes inflight and the need for pilots to have a checklist which provides useful instructions specific to fume events. The presenter – a commercial pilot - experienced a serious oil fume event during a regular flight on a U.S. carrier in 2015. In response to this fume event, the airline assigned him to a management role to mitigate fume events. As part of the mitigation strategy, he wrote a supplemental emergency checklist specifically intended to better train pilots in how to recognize and respond to bleed-sourced fumes, and not just smoke sourced to fire. Pilot education on how to recognize, respond to, and report fume events is an essential part of mitigating both the health effects and the flight safety implications of breathing these types of fumes on aircraft.

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Smoke, fire, and fumes without the smoke and fire: An emergency checklist for fumes

According to a published review of online fume event databases, U.S. airlines report an average of 5.3 oil/hydraulic fluid fume events per day. A fume event happens when oil or hydraulic fluid gets ingested into the either auxiliary power unit (APU) or engine, is heated, and then contaminates the unfiltered bleed air supplied to the cabin and flight deck for ventilation. The odor associated with oil fumes is often described as “dirty socks” and, in some cases, a visible haze or smoke may be present, although usually it is “just” a bad smell sourced to the air supply vents. The objectives of this presentation are to highlight both the flight safety implications of pilots inhaling oil fumes inflight and the need for pilots to have a checklist which provides useful instructions specific to fume events. The presenter – a commercial pilot - experienced a serious oil fume event during a regular flight on a U.S. carrier in 2015. In response to this fume event, the airline assigned him to a management role to mitigate fume events. As part of the mitigation strategy, he wrote a supplemental emergency checklist specifically intended to better train pilots in how to recognize and respond to bleed-sourced fumes, and not just smoke sourced to fire. Pilot education on how to recognize, respond to, and report fume events is an essential part of mitigating both the health effects and the flight safety implications of breathing these types of fumes on aircraft.