A Guide to Aircraft Oxygen Systems

In many civilian and military aircraft, having an oxygen system is critical for the safety and well-being of all on board. This is due to the extreme altitudes and conditions that aircraft often operate in where oxygen levels and temperatures can be dangerously low. To ensure the safety and comfort of all, many aircraft utilize pressurized cabins and supply oxygen in order to provide an environment that is closer to sea level. In this blog, we will discuss the various methods in which oxygen is supplied to passengers and pilots across various applications and aircraft types.

One of the most common forms of oxygen systems are gaseous oxygen systems, and their method of oxygen supply typically differs depending on the aircraft. For light aircraft, a smaller, portable oxygen cylinder may be used to provide a single pilot with supply through a mask and hose assembly. Larger storage oxygen cylinder types may be used as well to provide multiple people flow, and a regulator ensures that two to four individuals can be provided oxygen through continuous-flow oxygen masks. Oxygen cylinders may also be a built-in feature for both high performance and light twin-engine aircraft, and oxygen is provided to a distribution system through oxygen tubing and a regulator. In such aircraft, masks may be provided in various stations so that passengers can receive supply as required. Generally, pilots will have their own regulator and storage oxygen cylinder that is separate from the passenger section. Within passenger aircraft, such as commercial airliners, storage oxygen cylinder systems may be implemented as a form of back-up for emergencies.

When designing an oxygen system for an aircraft, manufacturers will usually take into account the type of aircraft, whether or not it is pressurized, and its various operational requirements. Depending on these factors, manufacturers will often implement either a continuous-flow or demand flow oxygen system. With a continuous-flow oxygen system, both the crew and passengers have access to oxygen, while the pressure demand system is typically reserved for crew based flights. Additionally, some aircraft may use both systems with the presence of built-in and portable equipment.

Simply put, a continuous-flow oxygen system functions through having oxygen flow from the tank valve to a regulator which is connected to the top of the tank. With the regulator, the pressure of oxygen can be adjusted to a safe and optimal level, and then it is fed through oxygen tubing and continuous-flow oxygen masks for the passenger. As oxygen is continuous, flow continues even when the passenger is breathing out or when the mask is not in use. In more complex systems, regulators are designed to allow for adjustable oxygen flow that correlates to a rise in altitude, and such systems may either be automatic or manual in control. With a manual system, crew members can adjust the flow as altitude increases, while automatic regulators rely on an aneroid that expands as altitude increases. Depending on the size of the aircraft and the number of crew members and passengers, there may be multiple storage oxygen cylinders for both pilots and passengers.

With demand-flow systems, oxygen is only supplied when the user breathes in, ensuring that oxygen flow stops when the system is not in use. Such systems are most often found on both high performance and transportation aircraft, supplying crews with oxygen. While demand-flow systems work fairly similar to continuous-flow systems, their demand regulator is what sets them apart. With a demand regulator, the pressure of oxygen is decreased and then delivered to individual regulators for each crew member. From there, pressure reduction occurs once again, and oxygen may flow through the mask when the user inhales. Depending on the type of demand regulator, the amount of oxygen within each breath may vary according to altitude and pressurization.

When you are designing or outfitting your aircraft, it is crucial that you implement reliable oxygen systems that cater to your needs and users. At Internet for Aviation, we provide a number of quality options from different aircraft oxygen cylinder manufacturers such as Hawker Beechcraft, Airbus Helicopter, and more. Get started on the purchasing process today by filling out and submitting an Instant RFQ and receive a personalized quote in 15 minutes or less.


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