The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued two safety alerts Wednesday to increase awareness among aircraft mechanics and pilots of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The danger

Safety Alerts SA-070 and SA-069 warn mechanics and pilots that the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning is generally overlooked and underestimated – a dangerous prospect given that many internal combustion engine airplanes are heated by air warmed by exhaust systems using a heater shroud. A defect or leak in the exhaust pipes or muffler can introduce the colorless, odorless and tasteless gas into the cockpit – with sometimes fatal results.

A recent post in the NTSB’s blog “Safety Compass” detailed an investigator’s efforts that led to determining carbon monoxide poisoning’s role in one such fatal crash.

Prevention measures

The NTSB encourages aircraft mechanics to inspect exhaust systems, air ducting, firewalls, and door and window seals thoroughly at every 100-hour or annual inspection. The agency encourages pilots to install a carbon monoxide detector on the instrument panel of their aircraft, noting that detectors with aural alerts and a flash notification are more likely to draw a pilot’s attention to the potentially lethal condition.

Safety Alerts SA-070 and SA-069 are available online at and The NTSB also produced companion videos for the alerts, available on the NTSB’s YouTube channel at and