CFI Instrument Practical Test Standards, FAA-S-8081-9B, June 2001

II. Technical Subject Areas

B. Aeromedical Factors

    7. Carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning
      a. CO is a colorless, odorless gas present in engine exhaust fumes
      b. Exhaust fumes usually contain other gases that can be detected by odor
      c. Blood hemoglobin (Hgb) has much greater attraction to CO than to O2 and Hgb that has CO attached cannot carry O2, so CO poisoning causes hypoxia d. Symptoms of CO poisoning
        1) Feeling of vague uneasiness (rather than euphoria)
        2) Dizziness (usually without lightheadedness)
        3) Mental confusion
        4) More severe and faster building headache (compared to other hypoxic headache)
        5) Unconsciousness
        5) Death
      e. Countermeasures
        1) Always mix fresh outside air with heated air used in the cockpit
        2) If CO poisoning suspected (and/or odor of exhaust fumes detected)
          a) Turn off heater (the most common source of CO)
          b) Open outside air vents and flood cabin with fresh outside air
          c) Use O2 immediately
          d) Land as soon as practicable
          e) If symptoms severe or continue after landing, seek medical assistance
        3) Use CO detectors
          a) Low-cost plastic cards have a brown chemical spot that darkens in the presence of CO, and must be replaced every 1-2 months
          b) More expensive electronic CO detectors do not lose sensitivity
    Instrument Flying Handbook, FAA-H-8083-15, 1999
    An Invitation to Fly, Basics for the Private Pilot, Seventh Edition Dennis Glaeser, Sanford Gum and Bruce Walters, 2004, Brooks/Cole
    AIM 8-1-4

Greg Gordon MD, CFII