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Engineering  2018 

Aircraft Clean Air Requirements Using Bleed Air Systems

DOI: 10.4236/eng.2018.104011, PP. 142-172

Keywords: Bleed Air, Secondary Air, Gas Turbine Engines, Cabin Air Quality, Lubricants, Oil Bearing Seals, Labyrinth Seals, Mechanical Seals, Oil Fumes

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There are certification and airworthiness requirements relevant to the provision of clean breathing air in the crew and passenger compartments. There have been continuing reports and studies over the years regarding oil fumes in aircraft, including impaired crew performance. Oil fumes are viewed in varying ways ranging from rare seal bearing failures, to low level leakage in normal flight. A Masters of Science (MSc) research degree was undertaken to assess whether there is any gap between the certification requirements for the provision of clean air in crew and passenger compartments, and the theoretical and practical implementation of the requirements using the bleed air system. A comprehensive literature search reviewed applicable certification standards, documented and theoretical understanding of oil leakage. Two types of interviews were conducted to address the research questions. Key aviation regulators were questioned about the process by which they certify and ensure compliance with the clean air requirements. Aerospace engineers and sealing professionals were interviewed about their understanding of how oil may leak past compressor oil bearing seals, and into the air supply under various flight conditions. The outcome of the research showed that there is a gap between the clean air certification requirements, and the theoretical and practical implementation of the requirements using the bleed air system. Low level oil leakage into the aircraft cabin in normal flight operations is a function of the design of the engine lubricating system and bleed air systems, both utilising pressurised air. The use of the bleed air system to supply the regulatory required air quality standards is not being met or being enforced as required.


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