Perhaps the best example of evidence of Aerotoxic Syndrome or Poisoning was onboard Flight XLA 120 on 1 st February 2007 from UK to USA when a 20 plus group of UK passengers (including children) were seriously acutely and chronically injured for over 6 years.

1. HOUSE OF LORDS Science and Technology Committee 1st Report of Session  2007–08 Air Travel and Health: an Update. Page 53.

22. Mrs Samantha Sabatino and her family flew from London to Florida in February 2007.  During the flight some 40 passengers became ill, including herself and three members of her family. Upon arrival to Florida she was hospitalised suffering from wheezing and crackles in her chest. No infection or viruses were found either in Florida or upon her return home. Her family were still experiencing ill health including violent nausea, tummy cramps, blisters on arms and hands, chest pain, severe headaches, vertigo, insomnia and loss of balance.

She had complained to the carrier, XL Airways, who had denied that other passengers had complained of ill health. The Environmental Health Department have not carried out an investigation into the issue. She received unsatisfactory replies from the Health Protection Agency, the CAA and the Air Transport Users Council. She complained of being swept aside and questioned the effectiveness of these organisations.

2. Documentary film 2007: ‘Welcome aboard toxic airlines’:

3. 21 April 2008 BBC Panorama ‘Something in the air’:

4. 3 May 2010: Stewarts Law +44 (0) 207 822 8000 (London) +44 (0) 113 222 0022 (Leeds)

Boeing 767 Flight Number XLA 120 Aerotoxic Poisoning 03 May 2010

The Stewarts Law Attorney Group represents 20 British passengers who were seriously injured by aircraft toxic fumes exposure on 1 February 2007. The incident occurred when they were flying on board an XL Airways Boeing 767 from London Gatwick to Sanford International, Florida.

The dangerous toxins were released into the cabin through the bleed air system which (as on most airliners) draws high pressure air from the core of the engines to pressurise the aircraft with breathable air. It has long been known that this design can result in the cabin air becoming contaminated with toxic oil vapour when the engine oil seals leak.

The toxins were detected by passengers as they began to notice and odd smell similar to ‘smelly socks’. The cabin seemed more ‘stuffy’ and ‘hot’ than any previous flight they had been on and the air severely their eyes, nose and throat. The passengers quickly became ill, suffering respiratory symptoms, severe headaches, vomiting, bowel problems, skin blistering and extreme fatigue. The toxic air also caused long term chronic effects such as respiratory problems, memory loss, sleep disturbances, chronic fatigue, mood swings, cognitive difficulties, infections, and joint/limb pains.

In order to put pressure on the US manufacturers to deal with these known cabin air problems and to obtain fair compensation for the passengers, on 29 January 2009 specialist litigation firm Stewart’s Law filed the case in Illinois, the state where the Boeing has its Headquarters. In addition to Boeing, the case was filed against Hamilton Sundstrand (which manufacturers air systems components), United Technologies (which manufacturers the Pratt & Whitney engines) and the owners of the aircraft – AAR Parts Trading Inc.

This is an out right US product liability case against US defendants. However, the defendants were intent on having the case sent back to the UK courts (which are much more expensive for claimants and award much lower compensation) so they filed a forum non conveniens motion arguing that the UK is the most convenient place for the litigation.

After the prolonged legal battle, on 3 May 2010 Judge Quinn decided in favour of the passengers and dismissed the defendants’ forum non conveniens motion. Stewart’s Law has achieved a great victory for the passengers. Securing US jurisdiction along with the prospect of a high profile jury trial is a wake up call for US manufacturers – unless they take measures to improve the quality of cabin air now, they will face the credible prospect of expensive and public US litigation for future incidents where there is an identifiable toxic fumes leak that causes injury.

Contact us:
Aviation and Travel Department
5 New Street Square
London, EC4A 3BF
T: +44 (0)20 7822 8000

5. 3 December 2013 60 minutes ABC Australia TV documentary. ‘Toxic Flyer’.

Q. How did the legal case of the passengers of flight XLA120 conclude?