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Cabin temperature control

Sat Jul 15, 2017 9:24 am

Generalized question for you guys: How much control do you generally have of the plane's climate control system? Particularly as it pertains to setting the temperature within the cabin? Is it as simple as picking a certain temperature for the cabin (or several zones in the cabin?) for the climate control system to output air at? Do some aircraft offer more or less control - eg, in the old days with flight engineers, on a 747 Classic or DC-10, for example, would you be able to set the temperatures precisely? I'm also curious as to whether or not there are multiple zones within a plane where temperatures can be individually set? Such as first class, at 15C/59F and economy at 20C/68F?

Curious about how it's implemented on the different aircraft - what do the controls look like? A more advanced car climate control system, where you plug in temperatures for each zone? Or something as simple as a single knob on the flight deck that affects the entire plane? Are these controls independent of the pressurization controls, or an integral part of them? If you can set temps, are there any operational impacts to turning the heat higher - possible fuel consumption hits, however minimal? Also my possible long term effects of this on the airframe? I imagine that if you consistently ran one section colder than the others, you stand the risk of running uneven fuselage wear and tear - different thermal expansion/contraction cycles in parts of the airframe... or would this effect be too negligible to result in any additional wear and tear?

Thanks in advance....
Siren: single white female based @ KLAX. Aviation nerd, political wonk, disability rights activist, German car enthusiast
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Re: Cabin temperature control

Sat Jul 15, 2017 9:28 am

On the 330 there are two rotary knobs in the AIR panel on the overhead. Cockpit and Cabin. In the cockpit there are also individual gaspers so we can control places like our seat pretty well. The cabin crew can set the individual zones within 2 degrees of what we set in the overhead.

On the 350 there is an additional setting on the Cabin knob, called "Purser Select", which allows the cabin crew complete control of the cabin temperature in the various zones.

The actual temperature in the zones is displayed on the ECAM conditioning page.

Here's an A330 overhead. The AIR panel is the on the lower side of center.

If you're on the ground on a hot day with only external air, the cooling may not be sufficient. You really feel it sometimes when you turn the APU on and let the packs loose.

Additional conditioning leads to additional fuel consumption. If we have a low pax count we set the pack flow to "Low" for this reason.

I don't think there is much effect on wear and tear. A 5 degree difference is trivial if you think about the fact that it is -50 degrees outside, not to mention the packs heating the to 200 degrees at a certain point.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
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Re: Cabin temperature control

Sat Jul 15, 2017 11:13 am

The system on the A320 is obviously similar to the one used on the A330 - however we have three zones that can be controlled from the cockpit: Cockpit, Forward Cabin and Aft Cabin. Depending on the aircraft there is also a option for the purser to control the temperature within +-2C. However the temperature control is sometimes not very accurate, especially if you have a light load.
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Re: Cabin temperature control

Sat Jul 15, 2017 1:11 pm

The 767 has three zones. Cockpit, and two cabin zones. Each has a temp read out on the panel.
The temp control is located on the upper right of the panel.

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