Four Alaska Airlines flight attendants are suing The Boeing Company with claims the air ventilation system on its airplanes can sometimes contain toxic fumes.
The lawsuit was filed in Cook County, Illinois, the home of Boeing headquarters. It points to one flight in particular in July 2013. In that instance, the four flight attendants claim they could smell a foul odor the moment they boarded the plane. They say it became so bad after take-off, they began to feel disoriented and nauseous. One of them says she even passed out and required medical attention from a doctor on board. That flight made an emergency landing in Chicago.
The claim points to the “bleed air” design on almost all Boeing aircraft. Air is cycled into the cabin using the airplane engines. But if a seal in an engine leaks, that air can sometimes be exposed to burning engine oil.
“We know Boeing has known about this problem since the 1950’s,” said Rainey Booth, the attorney representing the flight attendants. “This was the primary problem that they had to address with this ‘bleed air’ design. And it’s the problem they’ve fixed now with its newest design the 787.”
The 787 Dreamliner cycles air from outside the airplane.
Boeing isn’t commenting specifically on the lawsuit filed by the flight attendants, but says air on its planes is safe to breathe and “‘research consistently” shows that “cabin air meets health and safety standards and that contaminant levels are generally low.”
One of the flight attendants says her exposure to toxic fumes on that flight in 2013 has left her with long lasting neurological issues including shaking and nausea .
“When I reach for something my hand shakes. Just to be frank, it’s embarrassing,” said flight attendant Vanessa Woods. “I hope it will get better. I have to stop this from happening to one other person.”
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