Global Cabin Air Quality Executive (GCAQE) Conference – Special Project for Penton Media
Conference To Focus On Aircraft Cabin Air Quality

With ongoing concerns among aircrews and passengers about cabin air quality, the Global Cabin Air Quality Executive (GCAQE) will organize its first international conference, September 19-20 in London.  The industry supported conference—the largest to focus on this issue to date—will be an opportunity to bring people together to learn about the flight safety and health related risks posed by engine bleed air, and to look at available, risk-mitigation solutions.
The GCAQE is the only major international coalition organization focused on the flight safety impact and harmful effects of engine bleed air, the source of passenger and crew “breathing air” on all turbine powered aircraft in service today, except the Boeing 787, which generates cabin air from electrical compressors.

International Aircraft Cabin Air Conference

Bleed air, which is bled off the engine compression section, is prone to contamination as a feature of engine seal design, by synthetic jet engine oil products. Amounts can range from lower level to significant exposures.
According to GCAQE spokesperson, Captain Tristan Loraine, synthetic turbine engine oil products all contain organophosphates, from the triaryl phosphates (TAP) family such as tricresyl phosphate (TCP), which have known neurotoxic properties.  “The oil contaminates the high temperature bleed air coming off the engine, which is then provided, unfiltered, into the cabin,” he explains.  “Passengers and crews risk both short and long-term health issues by exposure to this complex heated mixture of chemicals by breathing them in, or through skin absorption.” 
While standard HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate-Free Air) filters are commonly used to filter the recirculated cabin air, they are designed to trap bacteria and viruses--not engine bleed air contaminants, many of which are odorless and colorless such as carbon monoxide.  “The fact is that no aircraft flying today is equipped with an air quality monitoring device,” says Loraine.  “Some six or seven accident investigative organizations have stated that exposure to contaminated bleed air presents a flight safety risk, and the British Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) recommended over a decade ago to the FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) that all aircraft have onboard air contamination detection systems.  Unfortunately, the regulatory authorities that have the power to mandate detection systems, haven’t listened to the accident investigators.  Airlines will only install them if they are directed by the regulators.”
Most recently, EASA has completed 2 studies related to cabin air quality. These studies identified the 2 ways oil leakage occurs: 1) event triggered oil leakage and 2) permanent low-level oil entry via the aircraft bleed air system, supporting the recognition that ‘most engines have a certain turbine oil leak rate.’
Along this line, Loraine reports there have been cases where air-crews have been incapacitated and impaired in flight, due to contaminated air.  “Inhaling contaminated air will, and has, impacted flight safety and crew health. This was the focus of a significant paper published by Dr. Susan Michaelis et al, in a June 2017 World Health Organization journal,” he says, adding that some 96 percent of contaminated cabin air events, go unreported by pilots.  “Many pilots believe exposure to contaminated cabin air is just part of the job and not worth reporting unless they see visible smoke.”
The GCAQE believes that resolving this problem will require the creation of an inclusive effort in which the aviation industry, as well as flight crews and regulators, work together to introduce the technology that is available to resolve this ongoing problem.  “That is the purpose of the conference,” Loraine says.
Click here for more information about this conference