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March 17, 2020

A muffler is a component of an aircraft exhaust system that primarily cuts off or reduces the noise of the engine, and also keeps the cold air from shocking the engine, so that it can cool the engine valves after the pilot turns off the engine.

How a muffler can cause carbon monoxide poisoning

The muffler plays a role in heating the cabin in cold weather conditions for comforting the pilot. If the muffler has a crack and is leaking, the poisonous carbon monoxide can enter the cabin.

This can be disastrous for the pilot, the rest of the crew, and passengers of the plane. It’s not a matter of just one life but many. The maintenance experts must inspect the aircraft exhaust system regularly and thoroughly to make sure no crack or any anomaly of any sort goes unnoticed.

If a muffler is cracked or has holes in it, it can result in the penetration of exhaust gas consisting of carbon monoxide into the cabin heat shroud that could result in a fatal accident, as it can incapacitate the pilot within minutes.

The muffler is more than what you think it is

When someone hears the word muffler, we only think about its superficial usage and that is to reduce the noise. It’s the biggest mistake a pilot can make; underestimating the ability of a muffler in an airplane.

How to understand carbon monoxide poisoning

It’s imperative to understand the below information, because it shows what can happen when carbon monoxide gets in the plane’s cabin. It will help if you take immediate action as soon as you start feeling one or more of the following:

  • Headache
  • Increased breathing
  • Blurred vision
  • Drowsiness

Measures to be taken immediately

If you have any of the symptoms mentioned above and you are in the air with the cabin heat on, the first action to take is to turn off the cabin heat. It will stop inserting more carbon monoxide into the cabin. This can save many lives if done in time.

Secondly, you need to open the fresh air vents to allow the gas to move out and enhance the chance of surviving the poison.

The other measures include landing as soon as possible, talking to the Air Traffic Control, and getting immediate medical attention after landing.

How to avoid mufflers from cracking

After discussing what a pilot can do after carbon monoxide gets in the cabin, you should get to know how you can prevent mufflers from cracking and the killer gas from getting in.

You must follow these guidelines while performing an inspection or doing the maintenance work of the mufflers to make sure that your aircraft is in perfect shape.

  • The first and the most important thing is to separate the muffler of an aircraft from the heat shroud so that there are no chances of exhaust gases getting mixed with the heated air entering the cabin.
  • Next comes the inspection of the muffler itself. While inspecting a muffler, even a minor flaw or change in the appearance of a muffler must be taken into account.
  • In some planes, there are flame cones in the muffler, which can get damaged with time and even break into large pieces hampering the output of the exhaust, affecting the aircraft’s power. The muffler must be checked thoroughly to make sure there are no components inside the muffler that are cracked or about to break.
  • Lastly, make sure there are no cracks probable to occur later within the muffler. You can follow a traditional method of checking it with a flashlight to find any signs for warp (bends) and/or cracks.
  • Mufflers that come with the Inconel flame cones are harder to inspect. These mufflers don’t show any signs of warp or cracks in the cone, whereas other parts of the muffler may get damaged first.

So, it requires a methodological approach to check the aircraft exhaust system thoroughly. Just relying on inspection shortcuts would not be enough.

How often should mufflers be checked

The professional recommendation is to do a check of the exhaust system before every flight. This is how significant it is to make sure that the exhaust system of an aircraft is working perfectly. Along with these routine checkups, after a certain period, a thorough checkup must also be done to make sure everything is alright with the exhaust system.

About Acorn Welding

Acorn Welding has the experts and professionals who know your aircraft’s exhaust system in and out. They are the best source to suggest what to do with your exhaust and when to do it. A wide range of services awaits you and your aircraft to become fit for flying again. To learn more, you can go to our website or contact us by clicking here.