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Carbon Monoxide Warning

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In what it calls a “safety admonition,” the FAA is reminding aircraft mechanics to pay special attention to the exhaust and heater systems on light planes at this time of year. It’s also a good idea to check and/or replace the carbon monoxide detector in your plane. (You do have one, right?) Most small aircraft have some sort of heat-exchanger setup on the exhaust system to provide cabin and defroster heat. If the exhaust system leaks, engine gases can get into the heating systems and pump carbon monoxide into the cockpit. “Technicians should inspect all exhaust system components for condition with particular attention to areas associated with cabin heat and defrost systems,” wrote aerospace engineer Barry Ballenger from the FAA’s Kansas City Office of Continued Operational Safety. “Look for deformation, corrosion, erosion, cracks, burned spots, and loose or missing hardware.” Carbon monoxide can also get into the cabin through firewall pass-through seals, door and window seals and gear wells. The limit for CO contamination of cabin air is one in 20,000 parts. "Remember, part of being airworthy means the aircraft is safe for flight,” Ballenger advises. “By spending a little extra time during engine maintenance, the technician can ensure the safety of the aircraft’s exhaust system.”

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