Aviation Oxygen Safety Management System Analysis 2018-01-6001
Oxygen has been a significant variable in flight operations for nearly 60 years. Today, the use of oxygen is almost synonymous with rocket, jet and turbo-prop operations affecting more than 45,000 aircraft worldwide. Today’s pilot flies farther, higher and longer than ever before, and does so at an ever increasing frequency.
While the past 60 years have yielded tremendous advances in propulsion, avionics, materials and many other areas, oxygen and its role in aviation has remained largely stagnant. Although considered a major aircraft system and an essential component in high altitude operations, the orthodox mantra of ‘engineering it better’ has produced only limited results, most of them in the area of dispensation equipment (masks).
In recent years Aeronautical Data Systems and collaborative entities have begun working to create a standardized and comprehensive aviation oxygen safety management system. This paper includes a general examination of what a new aviation oxygen doctrine would entail, how it would diverge from existing industry policies, and how it would improve industry safety. This analysis is derived from work produced in an earlier collaboration with the University of North Dakota Aerospace Foundation. This study was initially created in an attempt to improve the oxygen safety training offered to its aeronautics/human factors students. This document is an evolution of the initial study intended to create discussion among industry leaders and specialists in order to generate broader feedback and consensus regarding aviation oxygen safety. The ultimate objective of this paper is to lead into a final and standardized method of implementing an Oxygen SMS Module.
This paper diverges from traditional thinking in that it applies an information and skill based solution to a system that has otherwise been viewed as a hardware problem. To put it simply: Aircraft oxygen systems have possessed the capacity for substantial operational flexibility for a very long time. What has been absent is the ability to synthesize oxygen data into a legible format and the education to utilize this information to its greatest effect.
Over the past decade advances in software, electronics, telecommunications and physiological research have provided the components necessary for a true modernization of aviation oxygen. We assert that these advances can collectively yield a new system of oxygen safety that delivers to aviators an unprecedented level of capability in planning for, reacting to, and surviving an oxygen contingency.