As non aircrew still continue to claim that there is ‘no evidence’ that human exposure to toxic oil fumes in a confined space causes ill health – it has been decided to publish a series of 6 blogs on how a BAe 146 pilot eventually discovered the cause of his severe chronic ill health.
John Hoyte was a commercial pilot for nearly 30 years and co-authored ‘Aerotoxic Syndrome: Aviation’s Darkest Secret’ published by Pilot Press in 2014. His blogs will be published once a month over the next five months – concluding on Sunday 22nd May 2016 @ 1700 UTC with a ‘Statement’ held by a lawyer since 2007. The blog will expose what happens to professional aircrew when they are grounded with chronic ill health. As passengers (including children) breathe the same air, they too experience identical ill health.
Previous Blogs are here.
May, the fifth month of my journey to understand the cause of my severe ill health which started in 1990. It starts in a better way as my ‘loss of licence’ compensation finally arrives. However I actually get less than the £75,000 that had been offered because all of the sick pay I have already been paid has been deducted. (They account for every penny!)
Things start to get easier. The severe symptoms that I have been suffering for sixteen years have eased somewhat, but only because I have not flown for nearly a year. Nonetheless life is still difficult. I have to tell people that I am grounded and involved in “research”, and this results in some awkward conversations.
I am still looking for a career change; the idea of becoming a driving instructor hasn’t worked out, nor has working as a health & safety assessor, and nor constructing outdoor pools. The fact is that my serious cognitive problems of memory and concentration are massive barriers to learning any ‘new’ job.
I have started by now to rapidly join up the dots of the past five months. I now know for absolute certain that it was exposure to toxic chemicals that has caused my condition. I don’t know for certain whether I am one of the nine people excluded from Dr Ross’s UCL study because my symptoms could be explained as psychological, but since all the subjects had toxic chemicals in their body samples, I do know that everyone has been exposed to them and the medical effects are random yet devastating.
However this doesn’t come as a relief, because I can now see how huge this health issue is. I was grounded because I could not do my job, and I could not do my job because I was unable to fly safely. But I had carried on working for sixteen years after my symptoms first appeared in 1990. Clearly many aircrew continue to fly when they are suffering from the results of chemical exposure. Since this affects their performance, people will have been killed because of this.
“Failing safe” is a term for pilots like me who have taken early retirement on health grounds. But it is not ‘failing safe’ to let pilots carry on flying until they become so sick they cannot continue.
I resolve to find out more about this seemingly obscure medical condition, make people aware of it, and reluctantly engage with an industry that refuses to acknowledge its existence.
Question: How would you feel if you found out over five months the cause of your ill health and that you could have been responsible for killing innocent people?
 The paper by Dr Mackenzie Ross, UCL looking into how chemical exposure affects pilots was published in 2008.
FINAL Blog in this series: ‘Statements 2006 and 10 Years On’ – to be published 22nd May 2016.