The cabin air of all commercial aircraft, except the very recently introduced Boeing 787 is bled off the jet engines and is, therefore susceptible to contamination from engine oil, some ingredients of which are known neurotoxins, (tricresyl phosphate being one). Although the aircraft certification standards promulgated by EASA, FAA etc. stipulate that ‘crew and passenger compartment air must be free from harmful or hazardous concentrations of gases or vapours’ there is no ’real time’ instrumental monitoring of aircraft cabin air to ensure that this is in fact the case. Due to the growing awareness of the grave health consequences of chronic exposure following the Coroner’s report into Richard Westgate’s death in February 2015, and his subsequent letters to both British Airways and the CAA on prevention of future deaths, it is expected that airlines and ultimately regulators will demand onboard sensors capable of continuously monitoring air quality. No such sensor is commercially available currently.
Key Information Summary
The Company proposes to raise £1,800,000 in 3 tranches. Initially in April 2014 a Round 1 SEIS ‘New Founder Shareholder’ offer was over-subscribed, and the company issued 150 Ordinary Shares at £1000 per share to fund Stage 1 of the project. The proceeds were used by the Company to develop a working prototype (suitable for mass production) with the requisite sensitivity clearly demonstrated in an environmental chamber. Funds from the Round 2 EIS £600,000 raise at £2,000 per share will be used to design, build and certify 100 Mk1 prototype handheld devices fitted with this technology for distribution to air and cabin crew throughout the industry, carry out further end coatings research to build up a broader and more comprehensive compound detection database, together with improving the fibre-end coating process to increase detection sensitivity. Round 2 funding will also identify project and cost planning for the scientific, technical and delivery components of Stage 2B, plus further IP identification leading to the application for further patents (within the specific field mentioned above) to provide maximum protection for the company and investors. A Round 3 EIS £1,050.000 raise will fund Stage 2B. This stage will improve the Mk1 hand-held design using the results from Stage 2A MoF and coating research, together with the design, build and certification of a ‘built-in’ system for retrofitting to existing fleets and incorporation into all new build aircraft. The aviation certification and approval process for systems of this type, costs in excess of £240K per aircraft variant, and so the company will target those aircraft types on which the most fume events have been reported. These include the Boeing 757, Airbus A300 series and the British Aerospace Avro series. Round 2 funding will also identify project and cost planning for the scientific, technical and delivery components of Stage 2B, plus further IP identification leading to the application for further patents (within the specific field mentioned above) to provide maximum protection for the company and investors.
HMRC Advanced Assurance for Enterprise Investment Scheme inclusion has been granted.
The deliverables for this first stage of the project from were as follows:
- To validate the theory of Prof Ramsden, that by using light and special coatings deposited on fibre-optics, we can consistently measure the effects on refractivity and interference of various gases to determine the nature and concentration of those gases in aircraft cabins whilst flying
- To determine the ability to consistently reproduce the affects of different gases and to optimise their use in the production of a proof of a prototype hand-held detector to demonstrate a proof of concept
- To develop relationships with possible channels to market in order to certify and commercialise the solution in the passenger aircraft industry both for hand-held detectors and integrated solutions.
As a result of the positive, and consistent results coming of the research and experimentation, at 3 different locations, Hungary, Japan and the UK and with 2 different teams, we added an independent “peer review” by a Fellow of the Royal Society to verify the project findings, and give further investor, (and clearly industry) confidence in the decision to “Go, No-Go” with Stage 2 fundraise and technology development.
The peer review took place at Cambridge University of February 2016, by Emeritus Professor Derek Fray FRS who reported;
“I witnessed a successful demonstration, by Professor Jeremy Ramsden, that showed that optical sensors with dynamic coatings, responded quickly to organic vapours, including ethanol and toluene. It is the intention to have a series of coatings which will form the basis of a device that will monitor volatile organic compounds found in the aircraft cabins.
The results of Prof. Ramsden’s research (i.e. the findings and data presented to me on the 12th February 2016) are valid, and demonstrate the potential of the device for accurate measurement of Volatile Organic Compounds and Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs and SVOCs) on board passenger aircraft.
Subject to more comprehensive experimentation and development to assure the device’s sensitivity and consistency of measurement further, I would agree that this technology/project should continue with the appropriate funding to develop a commercial VOC- & SVOC-measurement device for the aerospace industry.”
Stage 1 Delivered:
A prototype detector with the requisite sensitivity to detect TCP and other volatile organic compounds, clearly demonstrated in an environmental chamber. Designs for the incorporation of this technology into a ‘handheld’ device, and a mockup of the actual handheld detector.
Stage 2A. will deliver:
- Development of the ‘Handheld’ unit into a saleable solution, demonstration of its capabilities to Airlines, Operators & Crew alike
- Ongoing research and testing of new coatings for other Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) and Semi-Volatile Organic Compounds (SVOC’s) detection, and further experiments in the environmental chamber to broaden the database, determine its sensitivities and therefore increase its capabilities.
Stage 2B will deliver:
- Design and production of both mass-manufactured ‘Handheld’ and ‘Built-in’ units with proven ‘real time’ detection & data download capability together with full airworthy certification and compliance.
- Sales channel creation to ensure distribution and product take-up.