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Amidst Historic Flight Disruptions, Standards Promote Safety for Jet-Setting Travelers

After the recent eruption of the Eyjafjallajokull volcano in Iceland, plans for thousands of travelers have been put on hold until clouds of volcanic ash dissipate and airways are considered safe for flights. While the inconvenience and business disruption resulting from these cancelled flights has been extreme, safety is always the top priority in air travel. When the skies are clear for travel, standards are in place to assure passenger safety and comfort and help make flying the safest form of transportation.

Airplanes undergo frequent inspections to assure that all parts and systems are functioning properly. One standard developed by ASTM International, a member and audited designator of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), guides some of these inspections. ASTM F2696-08, Standard Practice for Inspection of Airplane Electrical Wiring Systems, covers basic inspection procedures for electrical wiring interconnect systems for normal and utility category aircraft.

A new article on ISO's website analyzes the air traffic crisis provoked by the Icelandic volcano eruption, with its accompanying economic and societal effects, through the lens of the ISO 31000 risk management standard.

To learn more, see the ISO press release.

When boarding an aircraft, travelers are often led through a boarding bridge that connects the terminal to the airplane doors. ISO 16004:2005, Aircraft ground equipment -- Passenger boarding bridge or transfer vehicle -- Requirements for interface with aircraft doors, is an International Standard that assures safety at this juncture when flying with several different models of airplanes.

This standard was developed by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 20, Aircraft and space vehicles, Subcommittee (SC) 9, Air cargo and ground equipment. The U.S. holds the leadership of this TC, and ANSI has delegated this responsibility to the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer. James Rusty Rentsch is acting as the TC chairperson. The ANSI-accredited U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) administrator is SAE International, an ANSI member and accredited standards developer.

Once customers have boarded, the air quality inside the cabin becomes paramount for the passengers' and flight crew's safety. SAE AIR 4766-2007, Air Quality for Commercial Aircraft Cabins, provides general information on air quality and references more detailed SAE resources on Environmental Control System (ECS), air quality contaminants, cabin pressurization, temperature, and humidity that affect the cabin environment. This standard was developed by SAE.

If an emergency should occur while passengers are on a plane, it is critical that all exits be clearly labeled and easy to find. Another standard by SAE, SAE ARP 488D-2000, Exits and Their Operation - Air Transport Cabin Emergency, suggests a system to make operation of the exits simple, quick, and obvious to all occupants under normal and emergency conditions.

While some planes may be grounded due to volcanic ash over the coming days, standards are in place to assure the safety and comfort of travelers when flights resume.


Jana Zabinski

Senior Director, Communications & Public Relations


[email protected]

Beth Goodbaum

Journalist/Communications Specialist


[email protected]