Oxygen considerations for flight into high elevation airports
The scope of this document is to provide guidance concerning the use of oxygen when flying into and out of high elevation airports.
Normally for aircraft operations that fly at high altitude, oxygen requirements involving a decompression are generally easy to understand and follow because of the increased delta between cabin and ambient pressures.
This document is intended to address a transition zone where cabin and ambient pressures are closely the same and oxygen usage can be compounded by physiologic subjectivity that often accompanies hypoxia. This transition zone is further diluted by regulations which are based not on science but rather sociological mores often not supported by empirical science. An example of this is reflected by differential regulatory requirements between CFR’s 91, 121 and 135.
Operators who fly into these high altitude airports will undoubtedly be required to address the inherent threats and errors associated with this transition zone. This document will provide adequate data so operators can custom design SMS procedures that will best fit their safety needs while remaining regulatory compliant.
Rationale: The number of high elevation airports (>7000’) being constructed worldwide are increasing and there is little to no oxygen guidance for flight operations. This document intends to address oxygen considerations at high altitude airports (7000-15,000ft msl) pre- acclimatization (landing) and post acclimatization (takeoff). This ARP will list best operating procedures and practices intended to prevent subtle hypoxia and insure the safety of flight is not compromised due to oxygen deficiencies that may arise in this unfamiliar area of flight operations.
This document will address physiology, equipment operations/limitations, and flight operations to form a broad standard while adhering to current regulations. These gray areas in the transition zone need clarity and will be identified so as to provide oxygen safety guidance for operators flying into these high elevation airports.