You are on page 1of 21




Basic Air cycle systems - Vapour Cycle systems, Evaporative vapour cycle systems Evaporative air cycle systems - Fire protection systems, De-icing and anti icing systems.
Introduction: The majority of the modern aircraft, primarily the large transport type, are
equipped with certain systems that are not necessary for the actual operation and flight of the
aircraft and convenience of the crew and passengers and may be required by Federal
Aviation Regulations (FARs) Some of these systems are important for the safe operation of
the aircraft under a variety of conditions, and some are designed to provide for emergencies.
Systems not essential to the actual operation of the aircraft are commonly called as
Auxiliary systems. Among such systems are
1. Fire Protection system or Fire warning and Fire Extinguishing systems
2. Ice and Rain Protection system
3. Oxygen system
4. Water and waste system
5. Cabin Air pressurization system or cabin air conditioning system
6. Position and Warning system
7. Auxiliary Power system
Fire protection system on aircraft usually consists of two separate operating systems
with associated controls and indicators. One system is for fire or over heat detection and the
other is for fire suppression or extinguishing. In some cases the system can be
interconnected so extinguishing takes place automatically when a fire is detected.
To detect fires or overheat conditions detectors are placed in the various zones to be
monitored. Fires are detected in reciprocating engine aircraft using one or more of the
1. Over heat detectors
2. Rate of temperature rise detectors
3. Flame detectors
4. Observation by crew members
5. Carbon monoxide detectors
Detection Methods:
The following list of detection methods includes those most commonly used in turbine
aircraft fire protection systems. The complete aircraft fire protection system of most large
turbine engine aircraft will incorporate several of these different detection methods.

Rate of temperature rise detectors

Radiation sensing detectors
Over heat detectors
Carbon monoxide detectors
Smoke detectors
Observation by crew members
Fibre optic detectors
Combustion Mixture detectors


It is a continuous loop system, and is pneumatic in operation. The pressure of the gas
inside the element is increased by heat and the increased actuates the diaphragm switch inside
the responder which closes the circuit and provides the warning signal.
The sensing element consists of a stainless steel tube containing two separate gases plus a
gas-absorption material in the form of a wire inside the tube. Under normal conditions, the
tube is filled with helium gas under pressure. The titanium center wire, which is the gasabsorption material, contains hydrogen gas. The wire is wrapped in a helical fashion with an
inert metal tape for stabilization and protection. Gaps between the turns of the tape allow for

rapid release of the hydrogen gas from the wire when the temperature reaches the required
The sensor responds in accordance with the law of gases. If the volume of gas is held
constant, its pressure will increase as temperature increases. The helium gas in the tube exerts
a pressure proportional to the average temperature along the entire length of the tube. This is
the averaging, or overheat, function of the sensor. If the average temperature exceeds a
specified level, the helium gas pressure will be such that it closes the pneumatic switch in the
responder and signals an over heat condition. If there is a very high temperature as a fire
would cause anywhere along the sensing element, the centre wire in the tube will release a
large quantity of hydrogen gas. This will increase the total gas pressure in the tube to a level
that will close the pneumatic switch. This is called the discrete function of the sensor.
When the fire is extinguished and the temperature begins to drop the specially
processed titanium wire in the tube will reabsorb the hydrogen gas and reduce the pressure in
the tube. This will cause the pneumatic switch to open and the system will be back to normal
and ready to provide another signal in case of re-ignition.
The responder contains two identical diaphragm switches. One of the switches is
normally open and closes only when gas pressure in the sensor tube increases owing to high
temperature or fire in the area where the sensor is installed. The other switch is held closed by
the normal helium pressure in the sensor tube. If the helium pressure should be lost, the
switch opens the test circuit.

Smoke Detection
Smoke detection systems are the primary means of fire detection used in cargo compartments. This
has not changed much over the last 50 years. While solid state electronics and new optics and new
processing algorithms have been introduced, the basic mechanism that these detectors operate under
has remained the same.
There are two basic designs of smoke detectors:
ionization and
Ionization-type smoke detectors monitor ionized combustion by products as they pass through a
charged electrical field. Photoelectric detectors measure light attenuation, reflection, refraction, and/or
absorption of certain wavebands. Ionization smoke detectors have been used from the early years.
The typical approach was to use a radioactive isotope as the source to charge the combustion
products (Figure 12.28). However, this source may also charge everything else, including dust and fine
water droplets, and can make ionization-type detectors unreliable. Ionization type smoke detectors
have been used by the commercial aviation community primarily in lavatories and cargo
Photoelectric-type smoke detectors have become the industry standard. This is not to imply
that photoelectric-based detectors have been free from false alarms. These detectors, too, have been
quite troublesome over the years. Most cargo compartment
applications use aerospace-quality photoelectric-type smoke detectors that rely on scattered or
reflected light radiation caused by a particulate matter between a radiation-emitting source and a
detector device. Solid state photoelectric smoke detectors use a long-life light-emitting diode (LED) as
the source of light.
Smoke detectors still have many limitations. Their operational success depends highly on their
placement with respect to where a fire event is. But there are also problems with other detectors.
Since one cannot count on visual line of sight of a cargo bay fire, future cargo-detection technologies
cannot rely on the use of video camera or thermal imaging devices. Deep-seated fires and/or fires
inside LD3 containers will still be hidden. This makes standalone thermal-based systems impractical.
While combustion gases, such as CO or CO2, could be monitored, these gases may be introduced
from sources other than fires. Smoke detection can be applied in the cargo compartment, lavatories,
galleys, and avionic compartments.

Types of smoke detectors


Carbon monoxide detectors

Photoelectric Smoke detectors
Visual smoke detectors
Ionization smoke detectors

Extinguishing Fundamentals
Fire extinguishing includes that part of the fire protection system using fixed or portable
systems used to extinguish a fire (ATA 100). A fire classification includes three types of fire
relevant to aircraft application:
Class A: Fires involving ordinary combustible solid materials, such as wood, paper, rubber,
and many plastics
Class B: Fires involving flammable liquids, oils, greases, paints, lacquers and
flammable gases
Class C: Fires involving energized electrical equipment Each of these types of fire requires
its own suitable type of extinguisher:
Water extinguishers are used on Class A fires only. Water must never be used on
Class C fires and can be counterproductive on Class B fires.
CO2 extinguishers are specifically used to combat Class C fires. A hand-held CO2
extinguisher includes a megaphone-shaped nozzle that permits discharge of the
CO2 close to the fire. Be aware that excessive use of CO2 extinguishers robs a
closed area of oxygen. In an aircraft, this could affect passengers.
Dry chemical fire extinguishers can be used on Class A, B, or C fires. Use of such an
extinguisher on the flight deck could lead to temporary severe visibility restrictions. In
addition, because the agent is nonconductive, it may interfere with electrical contacts of
surrounding equipment.
Halon has almost exclusively been in use in portable aircraft fire extinguishers.

Engine and APU Extinguishing

First step: The engine is shut down and combustible fluid entry ( jet fuel, hydraulic fluid, and
engine oil) into the engine compartment is stopped. This is necessary for the engine
extinguisher to be effective. If the engine were not shut off, the fire would probably just
relight after the extinguishing agent dissipated. Because of this practice, only multiengine
aircraft utilize extinguishing systems.
Second step: The extinguishing agent flows from a pressure vessel through rigid pipes and is
sprayed in the engine-protected zones.
Third step: If after some time (30 s) the fire warning still remains on, extinguishing
agent from a second pressure vessel (if still available for that engine)
may be used for further fire extinguishing.