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Operations in Crude Oil Smoke: Guidance for Flight Crews
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This article contains recommendations for operation in areas contaminated with crude oil smoke.
Smoke from crude oil fires can spread over a large area, well beyond the source of a fire(s). Commonly, the smoke will form a thick layer of dense, dark cloud, with a top of 5,000 to 10,000 ft.
Smoke from a crude oil fire is composed of:
- Oil particles
- Gases with a high sulphur content
- Severe Turbulence can be expected in a pyrocumulous cloud and the cloud may contain ash from the fire.
- Operation of engines and aircraft systems should not be immediately adversely affected by the smoke, but prolonged exposure will lead to airframe and systems contamination.
- Smoke or Fumes in the flight deck or cabin may result in breathing discomfort and /or irritation of the eyes.
- Reduced forward visibility in the cloud and reduced visibility due to contamination of windscreens.
- Reduced range of nav/comm radios
- Crew/Passenger to don oxygen masks and smoke goggles as appropriate.
- Monitor engine parameters and note and report any parameter shift to maintenance.
- Try to fly clear of the cloud, either by climbing or descending or avoiding the cloud laterally.
- Airbus FCOM Bulletin 804/1 - "Operation in areas contaminated by crude oil smoke": Jan 2005.