Google translation of this report
An inspection report shows how contaminated air enters the cockpit.
In the cockpit and in the passenger compartment of the Swiss Airbus A330, the smell of hydraulic oil spreads five minutes after the start in Zurich. The 34-year-old pilot feels headaches and sets up the oxygen mask. This is a delicate process, since radio messages are hardly possible any more.
The pilot has correctly decided, judges the Swiss security investigation center (Sust). It has published its report on the “serious incident” of 26 November 2015 this week. The hydraulic oil from the manufacturer Exxon, which got into the air, was a potential hazard. Nevertheless, the passengers and the crew are exposed to the toxic vapors for another hour. The fully-fueled plane is too heavy for a landing. Therefore, it circulates an hour in the waiting loop to burn kerosene. Several passengers and flight attendants suffer from nausea and headaches. A stewardess suffers disturbances of the taste and smell on the following day.
As a cause, the Sust detects a defective pump of the hydraulic system on the engine. Part of it was worn after 34,000 flight hours, resulting in a leak. Air is sucked into the air conditioning system for the engine.
Incidents are increasing
Sust Inspector-General Florian Reitz notes: “Recently, cases of contaminated cabin air accumulated.” This was also due to the fact that the Jumbolinos were getting old. The phenomenon has been controversially discussed for years. Reitz says, “I would not be astonished if the climate on board could prove to be life-threatening for frequent flyers.”
The Swiss responded to the incidents and sent a medical guide to the crew. There is also a guidebook in each aircraft. It states that the staff should visit a doctor immediately after an incident. If you wait too long, the substances in the blood can no longer be detected.
Swiss spokeswoman Karin Müller says: “We are not aware of a case of persistent health damage that could be attributed to contaminated cabin air.” However, the Aeropers trade union warns against long-term damage. It asks the airlines to equip the aircraft with sensors and filters because of the fumes. Müller says this is «a design theme and therefore a matter for aircraft manufacturers such as Airbus». The Swiss are also bound by law from a legal point of view. Aeropers spokesman and Swiss pilot Thomas Steffen said: “The airlines are not ready to install sensors, because more aircraft would have to turn back.” The problems would also occur increasingly in Boeing 757 in addition to Jumbolinos. He advises: “If I have a choice as a passenger on a route, I would rather choose machines that are less affected.”