British Airways flight attendants vomited and became “spaced out” after suspected toxic fumes filled the cabin which left them needing emergency oxygen, a leaked report has revealed.
Three pilots and 22 cabin crew needed hospital treatment after an emergency was declared on board a London-bound flight from San Francisco in October.
According to the Sunday Times, the emergency was prompted on BA286 after “toxic gas-type fumes” filled the A380 aircraft which resulted in the plane being diverted to Vancouver in Canada.
The report says: “it soon became apparent that more crew were behaving in a non-normal manner… [with] reports of dizziness, light heads, headaches, nausea, itchy red eyes, metallic taste in mouth, floating-type feelings, flushed, aggression and, most worryingly, forgetfulness and confusion, inability to think straight and converse in normal manner.”
The newspaper reported crew members continued to feel ill after they left hospital while one collapsed at Heathrow when they returned to London.
Some staff have yet to return to work, the report added.
The leaked findings have been seized on by the Unite union which criticised the airline for “downplaying” the incident.
A Unite spokesman said: “This deeply concerning account raises further serious questions over why the airline sought to downplay the incident as a mere ‘odour event’.
“That none of the relevant civil aviation authorities have seen fit to investigate what was clearly a serious toxic fume event is equally astonishing.
“Fume events and continued exposure to contaminated air on board aircraft is a long standing problem which cannot be simply swept under the carpet by British Airways and the wider industry.
“Passengers and cabin crew deserve better and the right to know that the air they breathe on board aircraft is safe and incidents such as these will be learned from and not hushed up.
“The Civil Aviation Authority must drop its refusal to release data on the number fume events so that the full scale of the problem can be assessed through a public inquiry and action taken.”
However, British Airways said the A380 was examined and no fault was detected.
A spokesman said: “Our highly-skilled engineers inspected the aircraft in Vancouver and carried out further tests on its flight back to London. No fault was found.
“The safety of our customers and crew is always our top priority.
“We have shared our detailed and thorough investigation with the CAA and fully comply with all safety regulations.”
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John Hoyte is a medically retired BAe146 Training Captain. He is Chairman of 'Aerotoxic Association' which he founded in 2007.