Introduction

The cabin air of all commercial aircraft is bled-off the jet engines, (except the Boeing 787) and is therefore susceptible to contamination from engine oil. These oils contain known neurotoxins, of which Tricresyl Phosphate, TCP is one. Although aircraft air quality standards agreed by EASA and the FAA, state that, “crew and passenger compartment air must be free from harmful or hazardous concentrations of gases or vapours.”, there is no real time monitoring of aircraft cabin air quality to ensure that this is in fact the case. There is growing awareness of the grave health consequences of chronic exposure to organophosphates in cabin air, 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 pilots, aircrew, passengers, and ultimately regulators will demand onboard sensors capable of continuously monitoring air quality. No such sensor has been commercially available until today.

Recent Project Update

The VN ADS sensor technology has now been verified by The National Physics Laboratory, the UK’s National Measurement Institute, developing and maintaining the national primary measurement standards. This key technology milestone means the company can start building the pre-production sensors for final testing in aircraft prior to full production and commercialisation.

 Key Information Summary

The Company has already raised over £750K to deliver the existing pre-production prototypes of the first hand held, real time Tricresyl Phosphate, TCP sensor to monitor air quality in aircraft cabins, and is currently finalising the full-production designs for the VN Aerotoxic Detection Solutions global cabin air quality monitoring service. Completion of this technology development phase is planned by the end of this year.

Simultaneously, the company will be starting an EIS qualifying fundraise of £1,400,000 that will enable technology development through to full commercialisation and commercial  contracts with airlines and operators.

HMRC Advanced Assurance for Enterprise Investment Scheme inclusion has been granted. 

Project History:

The deliverables for the 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 effects 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 reliable 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 industry confidence in the decision to continue with Stage 2 fundraising and technology development.

The peer review took place at Cambridge University of February 2016, by Emeritus Professor Derek Fray FRS.

The following project milestones have all been 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 hand held device, and a mock-up of the actual handheld detector
  • Development of the hand held 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
  • Independent verification by The National Physics Laboratory, the UK’s National Measurement Institute, developing and maintaining the national primary measurement standards.

Stage 2B currently underway will deliver:

  • Final design and production of hand held units with independently verified ‘real time’ TCP detection, together with relevant certifications for use in aircraft cabins
  • Sales channel creation to ensure distribution and product take-up and pre-order commitments from operators and airlines to prove the commercial viability of the business model.

Stage 3 will deliver:

  • Contracts committing to hand held sensor deployments prior to manufacture
  • Employment and training of employees to support initial services contracts and following years projected growth
  • The up-front cost of manufacturing several hundred hand held sensors for deployment into airlines and operators from 2021
  • Estimated 1% market penetration of global aircraft fleet for hand held sensors, delivering revenues of over £6m p.a. by beginning of 2023
  • Built-in prototype, bleed-air, real time TCP sensor with independent verification.