Aircraft Environmental Control Systems

  • M. Dechow
  • C.A.H. NurcombeEmail author
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 4H)


The external environment at 41000 ft (12500 m), a typical cruise altitude for modern civil aircraft, is hostile to human life. Aircraft environmental control systems are designed to ensure the survival of the aircraft occupants as well as providing them with a comfortable atmosphere. Major design drivers for the environmental control system are thermal comfort, pressurisation and cabin air quality. However, these parameters cannot be considered independently. They interact between themselves and with other parameters, which may or may not be controllable by the system designer. These interactions occur in a highly complex manner. Research has led to a good understanding of the basic functions to allow safe and comfortable aircraft environmental conditions. Future research efforts will be increasingly focussed on identifying and elaborating the interdependency of factors in order to further enhance the aircraft cabin environment.

Environmental control system Thermal comfort Cabin air quality Pressurisation Humidity control  



Auxiliary power unit


American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers


Air management simulation for aircraft cabins


Centers for Disease Control


Computational fluid dynamics


Cubic feet per minute


Cabin pressurisation control system


Deutsches Institut für Normung (German Standardisation Institute)


Environmental control system


Federal Aviation Administration


Friendly aircraft cabin environment


Federal Aviation Regulations


Flight level


Health effects in aircraft cabin environment


High-efficiency particulate arrestor


In-flight entertainment


Joint Aviation Authorities


Joint Aviation Requirements


Load factor


Maximale Arbeitsplatz-Konzentration (German Maximum Workplace Concentrations)


Military standard


Parts per million


Relative humidity


Severe acute respiratory syndrome


Semi-volatile organic compounds


Volatile organic compound


World Health Organisation


  1. 1.
    JAR 25.831/841, Amendment 16 Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    FAR 25.831/841, Amendment 105 Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    National Research Council (2002) The Airliner Cabin Environment and the Health of Passengers and Crew. National Academy Press, Washington DC Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    House of Lords (15/11/00) Air Travel and Health. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, UK Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia (2000) Air Safety and Cabin Air Quality in the BAe 146 Aircraft. Senate Printing Unit, Canberra, Australia Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    ASHRAE Research Project 957-RP (1999) Relate Air Quality and Other Factors to Symptoms Reported by Passengers and Crew on Commercial Transport Category Aircraft 7. Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Dumyahn TS, Spengler JD, Burge HA, Muilenburg M (2000) Comparison of the Environments of Two Transportation Vehicles: Results of Two Surveys. In: Nagda NL (ed) ASTM 1393. American Society for Testing and Materials, West Conshocken, PA Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    DIN 1946, part 2 (1994) Ventilation and Air Conditioning. Beuth Verlag, Berlin Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    ANSI ASHRAE Standard 55 (1992) Thermal Environment Conditions for Human Occupancy Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Thibeault C (1997) Special Committee Report: Cabin Air Quality. Aviat Space Envir Md 68:80–82 Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    ANSI ASHRAE 62 (2001) Addendum n, Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Cain WS, Leaderer BP, Isseroff R, Berglund LG, Huey RJ, Lipsitt ED, Perlman D (1982) Ventilation Requirements in Buildings – Control of Occupancy Odour and Tobacco Smoke Odour. Atmos Environ 17(6):1183–1197 Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Dechow M, Sohn H, Steinhanses J (1997) Chemosphere 35(1):21–33 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Nurcombe C (2004) Treatment of Aircraft Ground Air Sources (VOC Removal). Presentation to ASHRAE Summer Meeting, Nashville Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Spengler JD, Burge H, Dumyahn T, Muilenberg M, Forester D (1997) Environmental Survey on Aircraft and Ground-based Commercial Transportation Vehicles. Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Lindgren T, Norbäck D, Andersson K, Dammström BG (2000) Aviat Space Envir Md 71:774–782 Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 62-89 (1989) Ventilation for Acceptable Air Quality Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH) Threshold Limit Value (TLV): 25 ppm, 29 mg/m3 TWA Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    World Health Organisation (WHO) Threshold Limit Value (TLV): 10 ppm, 11.6 mg/m3 8h TWA Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Space DR, Johnson RA, Rankin WL, Nagda NL (2000) The Airplane Cabin Environment: Past, Present and Future Research. In: Nagda NL (ed) ASTM 1393. American Society for Testing and Materials, West Conshocken, PA Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    FAA (1980) Transport Category Airplanes Cabin Ozone Concentrations AC 120-38. FAA, Washington, DC Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Valway S, Watson J, Bisgard C, Scudeller L, Espinal M, Raviglione M (1998) Tuberculosis and Air Travel: Guidelines for Prevention and Control. WHO, Geneva Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Olsen SJ, Chang HL, Cheung TY, Tang AF, Fisk TL, Ooi SP, Kuo HW, Jiang DD, Chen KT, Lando J, Hsu KH, Chen TJ, Dowell SF (2003) New Eng J Med 349:2416–2422 Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Whelan EA, Lawson CC, Grajewski B, Petersen MR, Pinkerton LE, Ward EM, Schnorr TM (2003) Occup Environ Med 62:929–934 Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    European Standard (1998) EN 1822-1 High Efficiency Particulate Air Filters (HEPA and ULPA) Google Scholar

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Airbus Deutschland GmbHHamburgGermany

Personalised recommendations