PAN DAY 5th April 2020

Emergency BLOG – 5 April 2020 @ 1100 UTC/1200 BST.

To the public…

‘MayDay, MayDay, Mayday’ is the internationally recognised procedure for getting instant attention and absolute time priority for any emergency which is so serious that loss of human life is a dire probability – Titanic etc.

The term originated from the French phrase ‘M’aidez’ or ‘Help me’ and quickly got Anglicised to MayDay but always calmly delivered three times, to ensure positive reaction, as you may be about to die.

“Pan, Pan, Pan” or ‘Panne’ is the French word for ‘Broken’ but, as NOT dire represents a serious urgency situation with no immediate threat to life.

I have only ever professionally used the MayDay Emergency term twice in my 30 year flying career and never a Pan – yet. I now reproduce the two of my MayDay incidents from my previously published books firstly ‘A Tale of Two Ag Pilots’ 2017 and secondly ‘Aerotoxic Syndrome – Aviation’s Darkest Secret’ 2014, both of which were published along with co-author Peter Lawton by Pilot Press.

Before I broadcast this next EMERGENCY MESSAGE 3 BLOG on 5 April please read this brief, ‘Public Interest’ H&S article by Private Eye and Daily Telegraph journalist Chris Booker (RIP) – note the date of 24 June 2007 :

Christopher Booker’s notebook
By Christopher Booker 12:01AM BST 24 Jun 2007

Pilots disabled by poisoned air

A few years back Susan Michaelis, Tristan Loraine and John Hoyte were successful airline pilots, earning up to £100,000 a year. Last Monday, with health and livelihood destroyed, they joined forces with some 20 other similarly disabled pilots, to launch a campaign to alert the public to what should be seen as one of the most alarming scandals of our time.

Yet two days later came further evidence of how the regulatory authorities, in alliance with the airline industry itself, have stopped at nothing to cover up a health disaster whose financial costs for the industry could run to many billions.

The essence of the problem is that the air supply to the cockpits and cabins of many modern airliners is bled off from their engines, where it becomes contaminated with carcinogens, immunosuppressants and highly toxic organo-phosphorus (OP) chemicals, especially a compound known as tricresyl phosphate (TCP) used as an anti-wear additive. Both crew and passengers are thus exposed to small amounts of OPs and a cocktail of other nasties. OPs, more commonly used as pesticides, cumulatively attack the nervous system, causing disorders ranging from nausea, headaches and dizziness to, eventually, serious mental and physical breakdown.

Although this problem was first identified 30 years ago, following a near-fatal incident in the US, it was kept so quiet that when hundreds of pilots in the 1980s began to experience adverse reactions they had no idea why. One of the first to track down the cause was Susan Michaelis, flying BA146s in Australia, when in 1997 she was permanently grounded by severe illness. Two years later, at her instigation, an official inquiry by the Australian Senate heard enough expert evidence to confirm that the cause of so many pilots and cabin crew suffering ill-health was contamination of cabin air by TCP and other chemicals.

In 2001 the cause was taken up in Britain by Captain Loraine, a senior member of the British Air Line Pilots Association (BALPA), who flew Boeing 757s. But from the industry and regulators, such as the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), they met with a wall of denials. Although more pilots were suffering from “aerotoxic syndrome” every year, there began a cover-up which uncannily parallelled the methods used by government in the 1990s when the health of thousands of farmers was destroyed by OPs in sheep dip.

Ironically, in 2005, just after he had organised a BALPA conference of leading scientists and other experts from all over the world, Captain Loraine himself became seriously affected. Initially doctors for his airline saw no reason why he should not continue flying, but in 2006, following further exposure to contaminated air, he was permanently grounded by the CAA.

The career of Captain Hoyte, an experienced BA146 pilot, ended the same year for the same reason, although he was repeatedly told by doctors for his airline and the CAA that his only problem was “stress”.

Tests run on both pilots by the leading medical experts on OP poisoning, including Professor Mohamed Abou-Donia, of Duke University, North Carolina, and neuropsychologist Dr Sarah Mackenzie-Ross of University College, London, confirmed brain cell death, cognitive problems and exposure to TCP, explaining why both had become textbook cases of OP-induced chronic neurotoxicity.

Dr Mackenzie-Ross, who since 2003 has been carrying out an extensive study of sheep farmers and airline pilots, has estimated that, in 2004, 197,000 airline passengers in Britain alone could have been exposed to contaminated fumes. The evidence suggests that a great many people have been made ill while flying without having any idea why. One of the scientists studying this problem, Professor Chris van Netten, a Canadian epidemiologist, has analysed swabs taken from many different airliners, finding traces of TCP in more than 80 per cent of the aircraft tested.

Yet, despite the overwhelming weight of evidence, the regulators and the industry have continued to deny that the TCP problem exists. For three years now, as with the sheep farmers before, the British Government has relied on its Committee on Toxicity (CoT) to conduct a seemingly interminable investigation into “cabin air quality”, marked by a conspicuous reluctance to address the problem of TCP.

Last week, Michaelis, Loraine and Hoyte joined forces at Portcullis House, Westminster, to launch the Aerotoxic Association, backed by 110 MPs and many peers, including those veterans of the battle to expose the scandal of OP poisoning, the Countess of Mar and Lord (Paul) Tyler. On Wednesday, however, the CoT produced the minutes of yet another of its meetings. As official obfuscation, they were almost self-parodic. They referred to BALPA submitting “data relating to organo-phosphates”, but this was the only reference to OPs in the document. The remaining 20 pages, dealing with anything from carbon monoxide to the need to review pilot-training procedures, showed that the committee had no interest in whether airline crews and passengers were being poisoned by TCP from engine oil. It is high time this particular cover-up was blown wide open.

Please now read: MayDay 1 & 2.

MayDay 1. Testing the wire defences.

Wires were probably the biggest hazard, and they varied from nearly invisible telephone wires to much more dangerous 11 kV electricity wires on poles and absolutely lethal 275 – 400 kV national grid wires which were suspended between pylons going up to 250 feet or more.

The wire locations were meant to be assessed when the job was first taken on and plotted on an appropriate large scale Ordnance Survey map, which was intended to be an alert for the pilot. The possibility of a miss-plot of the actual position or accidental omission led to them to be by far the most serious threat to a low flying aircraft. The posts were the biggest clue to the presence and orientation of the actual wires.

It was generally reasoned that if a huge combine harvester could fit under a wire, so too could a small aircraft – albeit at 100 mph. The reconnaissance phase of judging the field from above was very important to establish the exact location of the wires – often it was best to start a spray run in an adjoining field to manoeuvre and stay low under a wire in the main field.

The aircraft itself had several defences against striking a wire.

The best defence was the prop travelling at around 2500 RPM and an old timer’s advice was: ‘If you are about to hit a wire, put it on the nose and the propeller should do the rest…’

However, the undercarriage was also vulnerable, so along each undercarriage leg there was a sharp edge which was supposed to slice through any cable. Additionally, there was another sharpened edge of metal running up the front of the windscreen which was meant to either cut or deflect a wire upwards, away from the pilot. Then there was a strong metal cable stretching from the roof of the canopy to the top of the rudder, this arrangement was meant to protect the fin and rudder from being arrested suddenly by a wire.

{You can see these PA 25 Piper Pawnee technical features in this 1981 film I took in G AVXA – a Pawnee which is still flying as a glider tug with the South Wales Gliding Club!

Also film of me Aerial Fire fighting in South Australia in 1984 where I successfully proved the concept over three fire seasons of what is now a multi-million dollar business }

I was able to test this latter feature on 19th June 1984, when I was spraying a field near Wheaton Aston in Shropshire. As I flew out of the target field into an adjoining field my eyes were peeled for an electricity wire which I knew was ahead of me. But as I flew out, the lay of the land suddenly dipped away and I realised that I was a foot or two too high and nicked the wire, with an almighty – BANG!

As I pulled away and up to altitude I realised that I had got away with it, but then I felt that the rudder was completely jammed and unusable. Time to get on the ground – quickly with unknown damage.

Fortunately I was flying close to RAF Chetwynd which was then a satellite helicopter training base for RAF Shawbury. So I called Shawbury ATC with a Mayday that I was going to land on their big grass airfield, which I did. As I surveyed the damage I was amazed to find that the top of the rudder, to which the deflecting wire was secured, was bent or squashed almost through 90 degrees, but fortunately it had not interfered with the elevator – that would have meant instant death.

Soon an RAF Gazelle helicopter landed nearby and a sympathetic RAF instructor flew me the few miles back to Peplow Airfield and reunited me with my ground crew, who had become concerned at my absence. They got a bit of a surprise when I arrived – minus my Pawnee!

Fixing the aircraft was relatively straightforward with a new rudder, and the next day I flew nearly four hours. There were some complaints from a village which had suddenly and mysteriously lost their electric power for a while.

This reminds me of my boss-to-be, Bill Wauchope in Australia. When one of his aerial spraying aircraft brought down a wire, he was sent a bill from the electricity company for the damage for around $900. Of course, Bill was annoyed with this so he sent a bill back for the exact same amount to the electricity company for the damage sustained to his aircraft by the wire. Touché!

MayDay 2.  Red Alert.

First, it’s important to catch up from where my narrative last left me, flying BAe 146 freight aircraft. At the outset of my airline career in 1989, my ambition had been to graduate from a medium-sized aircraft like the BAe 146 to something larger, for example a Boeing 757, and fly on longer routes. That is a typical career progression for a pilot. In the late 1990s I was still only in my mid-40s, and this would have been the normal next step. But I was worried that my ‘mystery illness’ meant I would have serious difficulty learning to fly a new aircraft type. (Film of me speaking with difficulty in 2001: ).

There is always a mass of new data, different control systems and so on to master when you start to fly a different type. I knew the BAe 146 so well that I had no problem flying it even in my poor condition, and so I decided the best idea would be to stay with the BAe 146, but to switch from the night flights, which I had thought were causing my illness, to daytime flying.  There were still a few short-haul UK carriers operating the BAe 146, and in 1998 I applied to Jersey European Airways – later to become the budget airline Flybe – and got a ‘direct entry’ as an experienced captain. For the next seven years I flew short-haul passenger flights, between UK airports (particularly Birmingham, Belfast and the Channel Isles) and destinations all over Europe. 

I was flying on New Year’s Eve 2002 when there was a serious incident on board. For the first time in my career, the emergency red call light from the cabin crew lit up in front of me. We had just begun a ‘round-the-islands’ trip – Birmingham– Jersey–Guernsey–Birmingham – and were still climbing on the initial Birmingham–Jersey leg when my number one, Emma, told me on the intercom. ‘There’s a fire in the rear toilet.’ Under the circumstances she was admirably cool; she knew as well as I did that an uncontrolled fire in an aircraft creates an immensely dangerous situation.

Being provided with established procedures to follow certainly helped me and my first officer Steve ‘Bravo’ to stay calm and deal with the emergency. Steve was the handling pilot for the flight, so we elected that he would continue to fly the aircraft during the descent and landing. This is a good division of labour in an emergency; the first officer flies the aircraft, while the captain analyses the situation, communicates with Air Traffic Control (ATC) and the passengers and crew, and generally manages events. I immediately radioed a Mayday call to London and announced to the passengers that we had to make an immediate return to Birmingham. London ATC were excellent.

They descended us quickly down to 2,500 feet and cleared us for landing, before handing us back to Birmingham, where the controllers already knew about our serious problem. We opted for a fast ‘tear drop’ approach with a slight tail wind bringing us back onto the runway we had just departed from. Meanwhile, Emma helped the other cabin crew gather fire extinguishers and check the rear panels for heat, seeking the source of the blaze. This wasn’t easy; there was plenty of smoke in the toilets, but it didn’t seem to be the seat of the fire.

Then, mysteriously, the smoke dissipated as we began the descent. Because the fire didn’t seem to be getting worse, we decided we need not order the passengers to do a full emergency evacuation down the chutes when we reached the ground. It is not easy to use the chutes, and it can cause serious injuries to passengers, so it is good practice to do so only when essential. We were met by a full turnout of fire engines following us down the runway, and once the passengers had disembarked the fire crew came on board.  They didn’t find a fire, and in retrospect it was clear that there had not been one. This had just been a particularly bad oil ‘fume event’.

The company’s eventual version of events was that the Number 3 engine bleed air valve was brand new and that the engineers had failed to remove the protective oil that the valve is covered in before fitting it. This oil then had apparently burned off into the cabin, so it was a small incident that would by its nature have been short-lived. I found this explanation hard to accept. There had been so much visible smoke: I thought the sheer amount of fumes indicated a more major oil leak. And there were rumours floating around the company at about this time about a change in the type of oil to be used in the future, because engineering had found something unsafe.  I learned much later that the company’s explanation was not in fact true. The cause of the fumes had been neat engine oil contaminating the bleed air from Number 3 engine. In early 2003, however, we were too exhausted, and busy with the schedule, to have the time or the energy to pursue the matter.

Pan Day 3.     5 April 2020.

“Pan, Pan, Pan this is John Hoyte of Aerotoxic Association Ltd. company which has served the public interest since 2007 has run out of money & about to crash financially solely due to the 13 year long Aerotoxic BBC Cover-up (ABC) which is caused by the word of ALL professional aircrew not being believed…Ironically my health is fine, but my company’s work is sick through lack of public awareness.”

Urgent Public FINANCIAL Help requested…

Here’s some FREE ‘evidence’ FACT & FICTION Aerotoxic films:

‘Welcome Aboard Toxic Airlines’ (2007) FACT
‘A Dark Reflection’ – later called ‘Flight 313: The conspiracy’ (2014) FICTION – which I donated £75,000 to Fact Not Fiction Films in September 2013.


Latest BBC File on 4 ‘Something in the air?’ – February 2020

Too little, too late & no mention of Aerotoxic Association since 2015 :

Q. How many of the public have Aerotoxic Syndrome?

A. According to a Dutch 2017 survey : 1,000,000 frequent flyers & aircrew have aerotoxic syndrome in Europe alone with 34,000 frequent flyers & aircrews in The Netherlands.


Enjoy… & Thank you!

J.G Hoyte

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