Sir, You report (“Airlines face legal action over cabin air quality”, June 9) on the apparent discrepancy between the fact that UK airline pilots and their union have gathered enough evidence to sue their employers for toxic injury from fume events, yet repeated industry and government studies have found no evidence of contaminants in cabin air at dangerous levels.
I feel compelled to draw your attention to the very different ways in which the respective bodies of evidence have been gathered. I worked for several months for the Aerotoxic Association to research the matter, declaring an interest.
Evidence gathered by pilots and their representative bodies tends to be based on medical examination of those reporting ill-effects after exposure to repeated fume events, which is when a seal breaks and a larger than average quantity of oil vapour leaks into the cabin. Typically these individuals have impaired cognitive function, chronic fatigue and toxins in their body, often matching the isotopes one finds in jet engine oil.
Official studies tend to monitor the air quality on an average flight, detecting only low levels of toxic material. None has reported on the contents of a fume event, to my knowledge.
You report that the European Aviation Safety Agency has commissioned research to check air quality on 60 flights. It will almost certainly find nothing. It appears to have been designed to find nothing. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t a serious problem.
Ampthill, Beds, UK
To read Philip Whiteley’s letter in the FT click here.
To read journalist Philip Whiteley’s 10th February 2014 Dossier to the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) click here.