BAE Systems and Quest International UK Lead the Way in Setting New Cabin Air Standards

BAE Systems has joined forces with Quest International UK of Cheadle, Cheshire (a Small Medium Enterprise - SME) to introduce to the world’s airlines the AirManager, a radical new active air management system, which sets a new standard for exceptionally clean air on board aircraft.

In addition to introducing AirManager onto its own BAe 146/Avro RJ airliners, BAE Systems has signed an agreement with Quest International UK to bring the benefits of the breakthrough AirManager technology to the wider aviation market. Under this agreement BAE Systems will act as an authorised distributor for worldwide sales to airlines of the AirManager system for an initial period of five years.

Through its Regional Aircraft business BAE Systems has not only engineered and certificated the installation of AirManager onto its own aircraft, but has also designed and certificated a Supplemental Type Certificate (STC), for installation on the Boeing 757, with a trial unit now being evaluated. Contracts for future STC designs on other aircraft types will be determined by Quest International UK in the light of market demand.

Sean McGovern, Operations Director of BAE Systems’ Regional Aircraft business said today: “In embracing Quest International UK’s remarkable AirManager technology BAE Systems’ approach has been to raise the bar to a new level. At a time when there is increasing concern about the transmission of infections on aircraft, together with the continued debate about the quality of air on board aircraft, we are making available benchmark technology to the world’s airlines to allow them to address the widest possible challenges to cabin air quality.”

Quest International UK’s AirManager system was developed in the late 1990s initially for use in the health sector. Since then some 5,000 units have been supplied to hospitals, nurseries, veterinary premises, quarantine centres and many other sectors.

The internationally patented AirManager uses a revolutionary development – CCFT (Close Coupled Field Technology) – which is a contained and safe electrical field that eliminates smells, and breaks down and destroys airborne pathogens, contaminants and toxins.

David Hallam, inventor of the technology and Director of Quest International UK explained: “the main strength of CCFT is its ability to destroy a wide range of contaminants very quickly. It achieves a single-pass kill rate of 99.999% of bio-hazards and removing particles down to below 0.1 micron [ a micron is one millionth of a metre], which is equivalent to a single particle of cigarette smoke. Our active air treatment systems provide reduction of airborne contaminants to levels far in excess of those achieved by conventional passive HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arrest) filters. The AirManager system maintains its superiority over other new technology air purification systems by virtue of its broad spectrum of operation – it is not just a point solution to a point problem.”

Quest International UK approached BAE Systems Regional Aircraft in 2004 to investigate whether the AirManager could be engineered to work effectively on board commercial aircraft.

BAE Systems has undertaken a substantive four-year scientific research evaluation through its Advanced Technology Centre and supporting agencies to verify the technology and investigate and ensure that it could be safely installed in aircraft. The research included tests on pyrolised engine oils, hydraulic and de-icing fluids with startling results under laboratory conditions. The AirManager destroyed the tiny amounts of resulting Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in one pass by breaking the compounds down into single harmless anatomical parts.

Sean McGovern added:”We have processed the AirManager through the full European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) verification and certification programme and cleared it for application on our BAe 146 and Avro RJ regional jetliners. To further evaluate the system, this year we have installed the AirManager into the flight deck and cabin air systems of eight aircraft with five European airlines.”

The service evaluation, which is coming to an end, includes pre and post installation cabin air measurement of VOCs, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, humidity and temperature. Mr McGovern said: “Our customers are delighted with the AirManager system as it does everything that Quest and ourselves said it would. In addition, we have identified potential fuel burn savings, as the AirManager system cleans the air allowing the air conditioning system to operate more fully in ‘re-circ’ mode. We believe the fuel burn savings are likely to at least cover the purchase cost of the AirManager in the first year.”

For the BAe 146/Avro RJ two AirManager units will be required to provide full clean air coverage at a cost comparable with using existing conventional filters. Installation of the system is straightforward and can be achieved in stages across several days as part of overnight line maintenance activity. Replacement of the units will be carried out at ‘C’ Check intervals when the unit is exchanged for a new one, with the old unit being overhauled at a service centre. The system cost should be no more than a new replacement passive filter unit that is currently used in most aircraft.

For the Boeing 757, a passenger variant of the aircraft would require five AirManager units and a freighter aircraft one unit.

BAE Systems is marketing the AirManager to its BAe 146/Avro RJ customer base and has placed initial orders with Quest International UK for 25 ship sets. One of the trial airlines has now ordered the AirManager for its Avro RJ fleet and BAE Systems’ own Corporate Air Travel executive shuttle operation has also ordered the system.

The Asset Management and Support businesses of BAE Systems Regional Aircraft will be marketing the AirManager technology to airlines worldwide. Paul Stirling, Executive Vice President Asset Management said: “BAE Systems has a strong belief in AirManager and we will work hard to generate airline interest and orders. We are working closely with Quest International UK to determine the next STCs to be developed and it is likely that our efforts will focus on the popular Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 airliner families.”

Throughout the four-year technology verification process and now at the start of bringing AirManager to the aviation market, BAE Systems has, and will continue to work in close collaboration with Quest International UK. Alex Parffitt, Principal Scientist, Emerging Technology Group of BAE Systems Advanced Technology Centre stated: “We increasingly see our role as fostering and nurturing the best technology from many different sectors and particularly from SMEs and academia. Our collaboration with Quest International UK is a good example of technology brokering and illustrates how open BAE Systems is to new and innovative ideas and products for the benefit of all.”

About BAE Systems

BAE Systems is the premier global defence, security and aerospace company delivering a full range of products and services for air, land and naval forces, as well as advanced electronics, security, information technology solutions and customer support services. With approximately 105,000 employees worldwide, BAE Systems' sales exceeded £18.5 billion (US $34.4 billion) in 2008.

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