References to EU regulation or EU websites in our guidance will not be an accurate description of your obligations or rights under UK law.read more
Carbon monoxide (CO) is odourless
and tasteless. It is produced by incomplete combustion of fuel and when
breathed it enters the bloodstream and mixes with haemoglobin (the part of red
blood cells that carry oxygen around your body) to form carboxyhaemoglobin.
When this happens, the blood loses its ability to carry oxygen, causing cells
to fail and die, effectively producing the effects of hypoxia — mainly a
headache, drowsiness, or dizziness.
Other symptoms can include
impaired vision, feeling and being sick, tiredness and confusion, stomach pain,
shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, and recovery can take up to 24
Many light aircraft heaters
utilising air flowing over the exhaust manifold to provide cabin warmth, fumes
escaping through manifold cracks and seals is one of the main sources of such
The immediate remedial action is
to shut off the heater, open the air vents and, if necessary, land. If the
symptoms are severe, or continue after landing, it’s best to seek medical
While most, if not all, pilots check their engine(s) and exhausts before flight for just such an issue, it’s worth remembering that if the aircraft heater hasn’t been used for many months the whole heating system should be checked even more thoroughly before a flight where it’s likely to be used. Ensuring thorough checks are made when the aircraft is in for maintenance and carrying an active carbon monoxide detector will help mitigate the risks of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Carrying an active carbon monoxide detector in the cockpit can
provide an effective early alert to the risk of carbon monoxide being present
due to their ‘attention getting’ functionality.
There is a large range of advanced electronic devices
available, both portable and fixed. These provide audible alarms and/or digital
readouts and cost anything from a few tens of pounds to several hundreds, all
of which should, if properly set up effectively mitigate the risk.
On, 14 July 2021 we launched a short survey asking about your experience of active carbon monoxide detectors. The feedback we have
received helps us to understand how these devices are already used and how they
generally perform within the GA
environment. The findings of the survey are available here.
From September 2021, we are
running an active CO detector trial with the UK GA community. The trial will focus on a monthly survey that
we issue to registered members. By working closely with GA pilots who currently
fly with active CO detectors on a voluntary basis, we hope to understand how
these devices perform over the course of a full flying season in a variety of
aircraft and what the experience of using these devices has been. The trial will
also help us understand to what extent carbon monoxide affects UK GA.
Registration is open to any
member of the UK GA community who
flies with an active CO detector and is willing to commit to completing a short monthly survey, every month,
over the next 12 months. You would be making a valuable contribution to
aviation safety. Please register here
For any questions or queries
on the trial or the work of the CAA on this topic please contact CODE@caa.co.uk
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