Memorandum by Airbus
Airbus welcomes this opportunity to give its
views in this written submission to the House of Lords Science
and Technology Committee follow-up inquiry into "Air Travel
Airbus SAS is a wholly owned subsidiary of EADS
NV, a global aerospace and defence company. Airbus SAS has design
and manufacturing facilities in France, Germany, the UK and Spain
as well as subsidiaries in the US, China and Japan.
The UK business is the Airbus wing leader and
is responsible for the design, development, production and integration
of wings for all Airbus aircraft produced to date. It is the global
head quarters for Airbus' Wing and Pylon Centre of Excellence.
The UK is also responsible for fuel system and landing gear integration.
The subject matter being covered in this inquiry
is in the domain of the global Centre of Excellence for Aerostructures
led by Airbus in Germany, which has responsibility for design
and development of the fuselage.
Since the original inquiry, two major EC-funded
projects on cabin environment and occupant health, comfort and
well-being have been undertaken. "CabinAir" (which ran
from January 2001 to December 2003) and ICE (Ideal Cabin Environment),
which is now mid-way through, having completed a test campaign
on 1500 passengers. Airbus is a contributor to both projects and
more information is provided in section 2.
In addition there have been activities sponsored
by ASHRAE (American Society of Heating Refrigeration and Air Conditioning
Engineers) in the USA, to which Airbus has also provided technical
support as required by the investigation consortia. A number of
internal Airbus projects remain commercially confidential; however
one, which looks at trigger points for real time air monitoring,
will be discussed in this submission.
What progress has been made in research into the
priority areas identified by the Committee in 2000?
The 2000 Committee inquiry was presented with
some of the results from Airbus' measurement campaign in this
area. More details are provided in an article published in Airbus'
customer magazine. In addition, Airbus has participated in the
European project known as "CabinAir" where extensive
in-flight measurements were carried out. No abnormal contaminants
or contaminant concentrations were identified during this measurement
campaign, and thermal comfort in Airbus aircraft was found to
be within the comfort range.
In-flight monitoring is also a major part of
the ASHRAE research project 1262 ("Relate air quality and
other factors to comfort and health related symptoms reported
by passengers and crew on commercial transport aircraft"),
for which Airbus is providing technical support as needed. Again,
the pilot project did not identify any anomalies with the cabin
Research to aid understanding of the interdependent
effects of the cabin environment parameters has been a priority
for Airbus for several years. As part of this effort Airbus is
a partner in the European project "Ideal Cabin Environment"
(ICE). One of the major goals of ICE is to address the aspect
of combined effects of the aircraft environment on the occupants
and measurements have been carried out in two test facilities,
the pressurised flight test facility (FTF) at the Fraunhofer Institute
for Building Physics near Munich and the unpressurised Building
Research Establishment ACE (Aircraft Cabin Environment) in the
Airbus has provided technical expertise regarding
normal aircraft operations to support the test programme primarily
in the areas of:
More detailed explanation of the ICE work plan
is available, however Airbus understands that submissions made
by other contributors to the inquiry will address the ICE project
in more detail.
Do gaps remain in the evidence base and, if so,
are they being filled?
In order to support efforts to improve real-time
monitoring, specifically in the case of smoke or fume events,
Airbus has launched an internal project 6048 to investigate trigger
compounds, concentrations and appropriate sensors that could be
used to indicate ingestion or failure at the APU (Auxiliary Power
Unit) and/or engines. The project is primarily focused on:
compounds present during smoke
or fume events;
concentration of associated
appropriate sensor technology.
This study is on-going, and it is anticipated
that significant validation efforts will be required, since the
occurrence of these types of events is so infrequent that an accurate
model of cabin effects has not yet been fully developed.
Have any new health concerns emerged since 2000,
and what is being done to address them?
We do not believe that there are new health
concerns that have emerged since 2000, however it is clear that
SARS and avian flu have focused attention on aspects of disease
transmission within the cabin. Airbus has been supporting airlines
concerned by providing operational and maintenance advice on how
to best react to this situation (via Operator Information Telex,
a non-urgent product and engineering information bulletin).
To be prepared for the case of mutation of the
H5N1 virus with sustained human-to-human transmission, an initial
working group consisting of Airbus, Boeing and the WHO was convened
by Airbus shortly after the SARS epidemic. This working group
has now been re-established by IATA and ICAO with participation
of the WHO, CDC, ICAO, IATA, Airbus and Boeing.
Another concern that is not new but that has
gained increasing public awareness is that of bleed air contamination
events. Airbus has been monitoring reports of failures leading
to cabin air contamination, and where necessary has introduced
modifications to resolve specific failure cases. However, there
is no evidence of systematic bleed air contamination due to design
failures on Airbus aircraft. Information regarding environmental
control system contamination sources has been made available to
airlines through Service Information Letter 21-123. In support
of these activities Airbus internal research project 6048 has
been designed to determine a means for identifying a trigger point
for a smoke or smell event.
To date the main area of uncertainty regarding
this topic is the lack of data during a failure event. Airbus
is aware of the research in this area recommended by the Committee
on Toxicity (COT) and the ACER project being sponsored by the
FAA in America and hopes that this research will provide large
enough test populations to be able to capture data from these
very infrequent events.
Has new evidence invalidated any of the recommendations
made by the Committee in 2000?
In Airbus's view no additional evidence has
invalidated the Committee's recommendations from 2000 with respect
to the recommendations specifically directed toward aircraft manufacturers.
It is important to point out that some of the
recommendations, specifically concerning HEPA filtration and Ozone
Converters, are already applied on current Airbus production aircraft.
For those aircraft not in current production retrofit solutions
exist for airlines to bring their aircraft up to the current industry
Airbus was part of the European project CabinAir
consortium and supported the development of standard prEN4618.
This standard provides performance based limits to ensure air
quality within aircraft cabins, and was jointly developed with
wide general interest, industry and regulatory participants.
Airbus is playing an active part in the European
project ICE (see above) and providing technical support (where
required) to assure successful completion of the ASHRAE research
project No: 1262. One of the ICE project deliverables is a new
European pre-standard for the aircraft occupant well-being and
comfort and the cabin environment.
How effective has the inter-departmental Aviation
Health Working Group been in taking forward the Committee's recommendations?
How are the arrangements for governance and regulation of the
The CAA's Aviation Health Unit (AHU) participation
in ICE has bought useful health oversight to the project. The
continued contribution of a facts and science-led team within
this domain is to be welcomed.
The regulatory framework continues to evolve
with harmonisation activities between the JAA and FAA regulations
and the establishment, and increasing responsibilities, of EASA.
If significant, new, health relevant facts are discovered they
should be considered by the whole industry, including the airworthiness
authorities, within the existing regulatory framework in order
to decide whether changes are needed to the regulations.
How successful have the Government been in raising
international awareness of passenger and crew health, and in improving
Naturally Airbus seeks as much as possible to
work collaboratively on the subject of the cabin environment and
occupant health where this does not overlap with competitive imperatives.
One area Airbus would like to see continued governmental engagement
in is support of the COT investigation and wide dissemination
What progress has the airline industry itself
made since 2000?
One of the recommendations outlined by the Committee
concerns in-service performance monitoring of filters. Monitoring
systems are already in place on the A330 and A340 family of aircraft,
and this system has been further integrated within the A380 environmental
control system. Before each flight the pressure drop of the filtration
system is verified, and if the measured pressure is out of limits
(within a given margin of error) a warning message (Class 5) is
generated. The airline can use this maintenance warning to plan
the filter replacement.
Combined HEPA and active carbon filters have
been offered by Airbus as an option for airlines to improve the
cabin environment. These combined filters act to remove not just
particulate but also gaseous contaminants from the re-circulated
Methods for controlling the cabin air inflow
have been developed and introduced with the A340-500 and A340-600
aircraft (entry into service 2002-03), and are also used on the
A380. The flow management system introduces several benefits for
the occupants and airlines. The amount of air delivered to the
cabin is controlled based on the number of occupants on board.
This has two major benefits for the occupants; better thermal
control and higher humidity levels. Additionally, the airlines
gain an energy efficient benefit by having reduced fuel burn on
those flights with lower load factors.
Active humidification systems have been developed
for specific areas or zones within the cabin and crew rest facilities.
These systems have been designed to provide increases in the relative
humidity over and above what flow management systems may achieve,
but to targeted areas. For instance, specific cabin zones, such
as crew rest compartments, can be humidified to increase comfort
to the occupants in those areas. The application of active humidification
systems is however limited by the amount of water needed to operate
the system. The amount of water depends on the efficiency of the
system itself, the volume to be humidified and the length of time
the system is operational.
Ozone converters are offered as standard fit
for all long-range aircraft to meet airworthiness requirements.
A further development of this technology has allowed Airbus to
offer combined ozone and odour reduction converters as an option
for airlines. The exhaust fumes from ground service vehicles and
other aircraft can be ingested during the ground phase. These
fumes do not have health implications, being part of the surrounding
airport environment, however can lead to discomfort (odours) for
the aircraft occupants. These combined filters remove ozone to
meet the airworthiness directives as well as removing gaseous
odours entering the cabin via the bleed system during ground operations.
The capabilities for medical treatment on board
in case of an in-flight medical emergency have been improved in
several aspects. Many aircraft nowadays have automated external
defibrillators on board to treat specific types of cardiac arrest.
The use of telemedicine devices to exchange information with a
medical ground centre has become quite common and related technologies
are improving. Airbus engineering provides support to airlines
for the installation of both of these facilities. Successful application
of telemedicine has been demonstrated on A340-600 together with
Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic Airline crews during the pre-commercial
entry to service evaluation flights.
As ultra long haul flights become more frequent
health and comfort aspects of the aircraft cabin and the environmental
control systems have been further developed. Due to the increased
probability for the occurrence of an inflight emergency with a
greater number of passengers on board and longer flight times,
novel solutions, such as first aid modules, have been developed
for the A340-500/-600 and the A380.
Additional possibilities for improvement of
medical treatment on board of long haul aircraft have been also
analysed by Airbus and will be further investigated in consultation
with medical experts.
Although development of the A350 XWB is in its
early phases, Airbus fully intends to apply the results from the
6 million ICE project, as well as results from the German
Government funded "LUFO" projects, a series of cabin
related environmental control research projects.
To what extent has the information supplied to
travellers been improved and integrated since 2000?
Airbus believes that this question falls under
the responsibility of the airlines. One of the goals of ICE however
is to ensure wide dissemination of the study results, including
to passengers. Airbus's participation in the ICE project means
that additional support for the partners responsible for these
deliverables will be provided if requested.
19 June 2007