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In a recent FAA knowledge exam, a question was asked whether medical grade or industrial grade oxygen can be substituted for the aviation grade supplemental oxygen for General Aviation, Part 91 flight. I have looked in the FAR/AIM for answers. But, there is not a specific regulation prohibiting the use of medical grade oxygen in aviation.

The FAA Safety Brochure OK-09-439 recommends that medical grade oxygen should not be used. Yet, there is a Civil Air Patrol document (another government entity that is regulated in part by the FAA) that refutes this due to changes in the understanding and delivery of supplemental medical grade oxygen.

Does anyone have a clear cut and recent regulation or document that clarifies this question? Please include links to the documentation.

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  • $\begingroup$ The only other document that I am aware of is The Pilots Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge. "b. Differences between and identification of “aviator’s breathing oxygen” and other types of oxygen The containers should be supplied with oxygen that meets or exceeds SAE AS8010 (as revised), Aviator’s Breathing Oxygen Purity Standard. To assure safety, periodic inspection and servicing of the oxygen system should be performed." There is also a mil spec MIL-PRF-27210G but I can’t find a copy right now. $\endgroup$ – JScarry Dec 2 '20 at 5:27
  • $\begingroup$ @JScarry - Thanks for that ref. SAE AS8010 gives the standard by which breathing gases can be classified as ABO. SAE International in their documentation states that they can not regulate or give standards for medical breathing gases because, “Medical oxygen is not covered by this standard. In the United States, medical oxygen is a prescription drug and complies with the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP). In Europe, medical oxygen specification compiles with the European Pharmacopoeia monograph (Ph Eur 0417).” But, it does not state that ABO is required. Just that the O2 must exceed standards. $\endgroup$ – Dean F. Dec 2 '20 at 7:05
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Regulations don't usually include detailed technical requirements or specifications, but AC61-107B - Aircraft Operations at Altitudes Above 25,000 Feet Mean Sea Level or Mach Numbers Greater Than .75 / with Change 1 says (p. 33, emphasis in the original):

Only oxygen that meets or exceeds the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International Aerospace Standard AS8010 (as revised), Aviator’s Breathing Oxygen Purity Standard, should be used.

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