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EASA awards contract for cabin air contamination research

EASA has commissioned a pair of German organisations – one a medical school and the other an applied research establishment – to research cabin air quality. The agency says the research will start with in-flight work to identify suitable instrumentation to measure cabin and cockpit air contamination.

Once the instrumentation and testing methodology has been established, EASA says it will carry out a larger-scale test programme on board commercially-operated large transport aeroplanes in the near future. Measurements will be taken in the cockpit and passenger cabin during all flight phases.

The EASA research contract has been awarded to a consortium made up of research establishment Fraunhofer and the Medizinische Hochschule Hannover (MHH). Both are based in Hannover.

EASA’s call for research bids states: “The quality of the air that passengers and air crews are exposed to on board commercial transport aeroplanes has been the basis of a continuing debate over the last 60 years, both from the health and safety points of view. Discussions about cabin or cockpit air quality need to differentiate between single cabin/cockpit air contamination [fume] events and the cabin air composition in normal operating conditions, for example the composition of the cabin air in the absence of any abnormal event and which can be compared, for instance, to the composition of the outside air or to the air at other workplaces.”

The project is expected take 20 months from taking measurements to analysis of the results. Results are expected in October 2016, says EASA, adding that the final details of the project – including the complete list of the aircraft types that will feature in the research – are still to be decided upon.

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