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How hot is too hot! Air con U/S - hot temperatures.

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How hot is too hot! Air con U/S - hot temperatures.

Old 21st Jul 2017, 18:11
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How hot is too hot! Air con U/S - hot temperatures.

Can anyone give me an insight into the use of air conditioning when an aircraft is loaded with passengers and stationary on the ground in high temperature environments.

Had the misfortune of travelling with a certain low cost carrier during the week from Bordeaux to Ireland with my family. After boarding the aircraft the Captain announced there was an issue with air conditioning and that after the doors were closed the aircraft would get quite warm until such time as the engines could be started.

I estimate that the aircraft was approximately 90% full. It was a particularly hot day in Bordeaux. Temperature outside was 37 degrees at the time.

The doors were closed approximately 10 minutes before our scheduled push back departure time. However, the aircraft appears to have possibly picked up a slot and as a result was approx 52 minutes late pushing back from the gate.

Unfortunately, the temperature inside the aircraft began to climb with conditions deteriorating rapidly. Not only had they become intolerable for the
passengers but also the cabin crew.

On board the aircraft there was a wide mixture of age groups. From very young children to elderly individuals.

A number of passengers were calling out to the cabin crew for water. One response from a member of the cabin crew was that they did not have the authority to give out water as they could only do so if authorized by the company.

Another passenger mentioned how uncomfortable the conditions were and the response given was " That's not my fault how do you think I feel having to work in it".

Eventually, the aircraft did push back from the gate and the engines were started. One thing I did notice was that the engines were not started while on stand instead they were started on the push back.

In this scenario I'm willing to give the Captain the benefit of the doubt that there was an issue with air conditioning etc being unavailable. The Captain
was however very poor in communicating with passengers and before descent while he did apologize for the delay made no reference to the uncomfortable and dangerous conditions all on board had endured.

The issue I have with such practices is that there is two age groups that are extremely prone to over heating. While a middle aged adult can regulate their temperature by sweating. This is not the case for young children and elderly individuals.

For children as their sweat glands have not fully developed in the same way as an adult they can quickly begin to overheat.

Likewise for elderly individuals as they get older they tend to lose their thermoregulation functions and have a narrower margin of safe temperature that they can endure, than that of a middle aged adult.

I have no doubt that if conditions on the day had persisted a number of individuals would have needed serious medical attention. After all the perfect
variables were at play - high temperatures in the cabin, dehydration and prone age groups.


As a result I have the following questions.

Is what was experienced on the day a regular occurrence?

Is there regulation within the airline industry for such eventualities?

What policies, procedures, standards or guidelines are airlines operating to for such occurrences?

Thank you!
tres chaud is offline  
Old 22nd Jul 2017, 16:00
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Maybe Capt finds it difficult to explain that his employer won't pay for ground conditioning.
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Old 22nd Jul 2017, 16:18
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Exactly!

Spot on, you nailed it.
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Old 22nd Jul 2017, 16:28
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thats what lo cost means , if its not 100% essential/mandatory don't do it. Although in this case , which sounds absolutely horrible, not giving the pax water is a health and safety breach and the airline should be if not prosecuted but reminded of their duty of care.
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Old 22nd Jul 2017, 16:29
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I don't recall BOD having ground air but it's been a long time since I've been there. I imagine it was a unserviceable APU. Unfortunately, airlines face fines of tens of thousands of € thanks to EU261 so you will see an increase in aircraft flying with defects. Instead of fixing problems and delaying flights, they'll simply fly them and INOP the equipment. Still, lovely compensation for the few whilst the many suffer during incidents like this.

Surprising that they won't even give out free tap water though. That's bad.
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Old 22nd Jul 2017, 16:29
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How about just getting permission to run an engine at the gate?? When questioned Just told the company a/c was uninhabitable without air.
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Old 22nd Jul 2017, 16:30
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Needless to say, if the OP had not gone for the cheap option of using a low cost carrier, none of this could ever have happened.

This sort of thing could not possibly happen to such as BA or Aer Lingus.
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Old 22nd Jul 2017, 16:30
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Ah, that shouldn't have happened like it did.
If for some technical reason air conditioning isn't available on the ground, then company guidance is given for such occasions. Basically open the doors again.
Although the pilots should be thinking about pax comfort there are some low experience crews. Fantastic at flying but sometimes missing some other aspects of the job, like the pax consideration.
A message passed via the cabin crew should have prompted them to do something.
The captain can authorise non alcoholic drinks. End of.
Can I suggest if in the future it happens again then you ask the cabin crew to inform the flight deck before it gets too hot.
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Old 22nd Jul 2017, 16:33
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Originally Posted by filejw View Post
How about just getting permission to run an engine at the gate?? When questioned Just told the company a/c was uninhabitable without air.
Oh my God. Fuel is soooo expensive
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Old 22nd Jul 2017, 16:35
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Originally Posted by JW411 View Post
This sort of thing could not possibly happen to such as BA or Aer Lingus.
United, on the other hand ...
Accident: United B744 at Frankfurt on Jul 18th 2017, air conditioning causes passengers to faint
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Old 22nd Jul 2017, 16:42
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Running an engine at the gate is not to be advised nowadays. Just imagine what could disappear down the intake.

That was one of the huge advantages of the DC-10 (or the L1011). You could run No.2 engine at idle and tell the airport authorities that it was the APU!
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Old 22nd Jul 2017, 17:24
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Our guidance is to make a cabin assessment and consider delaying boarding until cabin temp is acceptable, typically below 33c.
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Old 22nd Jul 2017, 17:52
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"Is there regulation within the airline industry for such eventualities?"

Can anyone answer this part of OP question ?
Thanks, John (being 75 years old & having suffered such a thing)
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Old 22nd Jul 2017, 18:05
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I had this issue a few years ago. Inoperative APU and then ended up with an hour slot.

Loaded extra fuel, pushed to a remote stand, and sat there on a ready message with one engine running for air con / elec / immediate taxi. You can make this job as hard or as easy as you like.
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Old 22nd Jul 2017, 18:24
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A4

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Exactly- it's just common sense. As Commander of the aircraft you are responsible for the safety of everyone on board - and that includes the environment in which they are sitting. If the company won't pay for Ground Air Con then simply tell them that you will be unable to keep pax on board if you then get a slot after boarding - and disembark everyone if you don't. I work for a LCC and if there's no APU we request in advance ground air conditioning....so the BA / Lingus comment is BS (unless I missed the sarcasm).

Pushing to a remote hold with one running is the obvious answer - so fuel accordingly - even running one on stand shouldn't be an issue. The anti-collision is on, IT'LL BE LOUD so pretty obviously it's running......

There should be no hand wringing about this - be Commanders! It's a safety issue. What if an elderly pax has a medical event directly attributable to the temperature in the cabin? Skipper is potentially opening himself up to legal action for not dealing with a known, fixable issue.
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Old 22nd Jul 2017, 18:35
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Sounds more like crew incompetence than any specific airline procedure. Some crew are just plain stubborn/scared/oblivious when it comes to amending SOP's in non-standard situations.

I have been in a similar situation. No APU, no ground aircon, 30+ degrees and a dispatcher keen to close the doors on time even though we had a slot. A firm NO settled that issue. And I demanded steps to be put back in place at the rear door so both doors could be kept open till slot time. I'm sure most of us woud ave done the same, but there is always that 10% of idiots in any airline..
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Old 22nd Jul 2017, 19:18
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Apply creative thinking...

In 2001, I was riding pax in a Continental ATR, CLE-ALB. Summer heat wave. Had a MX problem starboard side before engine start, so standard ground AC yellow hose (or "hotel" mode or whatever) could not be connected/operated (got in the way of the mechanics at work). Got pretty toasty in the cabin.

Crew eventually opened the forward baggage door (port side), horsed the big old ground AC hose around into the baggage compartment, opened the connecting door from baggage area to cabin (and the rear cabin door) and cooled us all off right quick.
pattern_is_full is online now  
Old 22nd Jul 2017, 19:20
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@tres chaud,

One thing I did notice was that the engines were not started while on stand instead they were started on the push back.
Are you sure about that? Sounds like they were operating without a functioning APU, which happens occasionally. If they were able to start their engines during pushback they must have had a good APU so I can't see why the aircon wasn't available.
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Old 22nd Jul 2017, 19:27
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Maybe they had an issue with contaminated bleed air from the APU. At my co that would lead to a total ban on using the APU bleed, but maybe they could use the APU to start the engine?

Anyway, the very fact that the captain choose to close the doors a full TEN minutes ahead of schedule when knowing full well that he had an 'issue' with the aircon points towards stupidity.
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Old 22nd Jul 2017, 19:35
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I think the main issue here is duty of care. I have faced this situation before, especially with a U/S APU in the summer down in the Mediterranean.

With all due respect to company procedures and policies, I would be inclined to think outside the box in this situation. As some of the guys and gals have pointed out the Captain of the aircraft has a duty of care to the passengers and crew. Due to the fact this is probably a situation that you don't face very often and the lengths we go to burn as little fuel as possible through flying as efficiently as possible I would be inclined to chuck on the extra gas and remote hold with 1 engine running which I would think would be completely justified.

A few PAs in the cabin and a little extra petrol keeps the customers happy .
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