Going To The
By Shane Nolan
March 24, 2011 - The Federal Aviation Administration
determined that the oxygen generators located in the
bathrooms of some 6,000
date all oxygen generators
have been removed from commercial aircraft. The
oxygen generators onboard aircraft provide emergency
oxygen in the event the aircraft should suddenly have a
drop in cabin pressure.
such an event an oxygen mask would drop down throughout
the aircraft including the lavatories (bathrooms),
providing passengers with sufficient oxygen until the
aircraft could descend to thicker more breathable air.
The European Cockpit Association (ECA) which represents over 38,650 European pilots and flight engineers from the National Flight Crew Associations in 38 European countries has reported that they have concerns with the removal of the oxygen generators from the lavatories U.S. commercial aircraft and the concern such measures maybe adopted overseas.
reports this modification could have serious implications for
crew and passengers safety. In case of a sudden and rapid
decompression the chances for the lavatories? occupants to
survive could be extremely low. The ECA is concerned that other
European Member States could take similar decisions.
to ECA aviation security experts, this move will create a safety
hazard when there is a decompression in the aircraft at high
altitude. In the event of decompression crew and passengers
located in toilets will not be able to get oxygen, possibly
resulting in unconsciousness but, in the worst case scenario, in
death by suffocation.
currently no alternative safety equipments or procedures in
place to avoid such a situation. To our surprise passengers are
not seem to have been informed about the risks they now incur
when going to the restroom.
normal altitude of 35000 feet the time a person has to reach an
oxygen mask is 30 seconds before falling unconscious. A pilot or
a crew member has to get an oxygen mask within 10 seconds before
his or her judgment starts to alter.
At a higher altitude and with the oxygen rarefaction this
period falls to 5 seconds.
Pilots and cabin crew are trained to face decompression events but with no doubt it will take them more than 30 seconds to reach their seat, put their own oxygen mask and start checking all the lavatories on board. This is without mentioning that they may be themselves in the toilets at that time.
In case of
decompression the pilots will try to get the aircraft down to a safe
altitude as soon as possible. But mountain relief or other aircrafts in
the vicinity might temporally prevent the descent procedure. In case one
of the pilots is in the toilet the remaining pilot will have to perform
this procedure on its own with this added stress factor of not knowing
if his or her colleague will make it back to the cockpit.
What are the
reasons behind such a measure? The FAA and the
During the last 6 months there have been more than 16 cases of decompression reported on European registered aircrafts. Although most of them were not serious it shows that the possibility of a decompression is real.
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