For over six decades, there has been general awareness that flying in commercial jets may cause serious illness in some flyers, both passengers and aircrew ranging from acute, in-flight sickness to more chronic jet lag, even from a single flight.
Google: XLA120 of 1st February 2007….
Many different toxic chemicals are found in airliner cabins which might account for illness and are conveyed by a design flaw of using unmonitored, unfiltered ‘Bleed air’ into jets.
‘Bleed air’ was first used in the 1950’s, where products of combustion mix with air in the engine, as the seals are designed to leak and then piped straight into the cabin, but over 10 years with no seal changes due to high costs, seal efficiency worsens significantly over time.
Toxic chemicals are added to jet engine oil and include organophosphates – a known nerve agent, as anti-wear additives which make jet engines last longer but have been blamed by some for over 20 years for both acute and chronic ill health in some flyers.
However more recently, Carbon Monoxide (CO) gas which cannot be smelt, seen or tasted has been identified as the most likely chemical of concern as a well understood deadly product of part combustion.
CO is a tiny molecule and can pass clean through most filters and that is why there is no point in manufacturers trying to filter bleed air.
Most public places have $15 CO monitors to warn of deadly low concentrations of 9 parts per million (9 ppm), yet no multi-million-dollar public transport jets have any CO sensors fitted, deliberately.
With the instant digital revolution now in full swing, it is only a matter of time before the flying public monitor CO in their own environment and take steps to limit their personal exposure on any flight or confined space situation, however drastic…
No one can unknow – once one knows & finally, Boeing 787 Dreamliner (2009) does NOT use Bleed air nor needs CO sensors!!
John Grahame Hoyte
Chairman Aerotoxic Association Ltd. The Charity (2007)
Chairman Aerotoxic Consultancy Ltd. (2021)
Former BAe 146 Training Captain
***Please also contact BBC firstname.lastname@example.org for a further report after 851 days…***
PTO for some XLA 120 evidence…
3 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 onboard 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.
Passengers detected the toxic air as they began to notice an 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 irritated their eyes, nose and throat. The passengers quickly became ill, suffering respiratory issues, severe headaches, vomiting, bowel problems, skin blistering and extreme fatigue. The toxic air also caused them to experience long term / chronic effects such as respiratory problems, memory loss, sleep disturbances, chronic fatigue, mood swings, cognitive difficulties, infections, and joint/limb pains.
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 Boeing has its Headquarters. In addition to ‘Boeing’, the lawsuit was filed against ‘Hamilton Sundstrand’ (manufacturers of air systems components), ‘United Technologies’ (manufacturers of the Pratt & Whitney engines) and the owners of the aircraft – ‘AAR Parts Trading Inc’.
This case is an outright 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). 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.
Aviation and Travel Department
5 New Street Square
London, EC4A 3BF
T: +44 (0)20 7822 8000
More XLA 120 evidence:
2007 – ‘Welcome aboard Toxic Airlines’ documentary film
12 December 2007: House of Lords Science & Technology committee
21 April 2008 – BBC Panorama – ‘Something in the air’
3 December 2013 – 60 Minutes Australian ABC – ‘Toxic Flyer’