OEMs Target Cleaner, Greener Cabin Air Conditioning

OEMs Target Cleaner, Greener Cabin Air Conditioning

Published in Aviation Week Network
Written by Paul Siedenman and David Spanovich

A new generation of cabin air conditioning systems is emerging, prompted by a focus on reliability, air quality and sustainability.

In the commercial jet world, air-cycle air conditioning systems are the standard. They depend on engine bleed air that is pumped into the cabin, once it has circulated through a highly complex system of components. The exception is the system on the Boeing 787, in which outside air is routed directly to cabin air compressors for pressurization, eliminating the use of engine bleed air.


While the OEMs continue to advance the engineering of cabin air conditioning, its system failure was high on the list of factors causing flight delays and cancellations at one airline, reports Patrick Quinn, product line manager for data acquisition products at Curtiss-Wright. To remedy that, the OEM installed its KAM-500 on more than 200 Boeing 737NGs flown by what he identified as “a major U.S. carrier.” He says this represented the first time the KAM-500 had an aircraft air conditioning system application.

The KAM-500 is a hardware product developed for flight-test data acquisition by ACRA Control, owned by Curtiss-Wright since 2011. The KAM-500 works in tandem with Das Studio, software proprietary to CurtissWright. Specifically, the data acquisition comes from a mix of pressure and temperature sensors strategically located throughout the aircraft that gather and interpret data regarding the air conditioning system maintenance status. Data is transmitted in real time over ARINC-429, using the Aircraft Communications, Addressing and Reporting System system resident on the aircraft.

“It was an off-shelf, predictive maintenance quick solution to what this airline wanted,” Quinn notes. “With KAM-500, the airline was receiving data they had not gotten before. As a result, air conditioning failures became one of the least problematic areas.”

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