Prevention of Oxygen Fires or Explosions - Aircraft Oxygen Systems

Precautions must be observed when working with or around pure oxygen. It readily combines with other substances, some in a violent and explosive manner. As mentioned, it is extremely important to keep distance between pure oxygen and petroleum products. When allowed to combine, an explosion can result. Additionally, there are a variety of inspection and maintenance practices that should be followed to ensure safety when working with oxygen and oxygen systems. Care should be used and, as much as possible, maintenance should be done outside.

When working on an oxygen system, it is essential that the warnings and precautions given in the aircraft maintenance manual be carefully observed. Before any work is attempted, an adequate fire extinguisher should be on hand. Cordon off the area and post “NO SMOKING” placards. Ensure that all tools and servicing equipment are clean and avoid power on checks and use of the aircraft electrical system.

Oxygen System Inspection and Maintenance

When working around oxygen and oxygen systems, cleanliness enhances safety. Clean, grease-free hands, clothes, and tools are essential. A good practice is to use only tools dedicated for work on oxygen systems. There should be absolutely no smoking or open flames within a minimum of 50 feet of the work area. Always use protective caps and plugs when working with oxygen cylinders, system components, or plumbing. Do not use any kind of adhesive tape. Oxygen cylinders should be stored in a designated, cool, ventilated area in the hanger away from petroleum products or heat sources.

Oxygen system maintenance should not be accomplished until the valve on the oxygen supply cylinder is closed and pressure is released from the system. Fittings should be unscrewed slowly to allow any residual pressure to dissipate. All oxygen lines should be marked and should have at least 2 inches of clearance from moving parts, electrical wiring, and all fluid lines. Adequate clearance must also be provided from hot ducts and other sources that might heat the oxygen. A pressure and leak check must be performed each time the system is opened for maintenance. Do not use any lubricants, sealers, cleaners, etc., unless specifically approved for oxygen system use.

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