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What is Aerotoxic Syndrome (AS)? 

In 1999, after a decade of research, an American doctor alongside French and Australian scientists identified and named Aerotoxic Syndrom as acute and chronic ill-health (both for aircrew and passengers) caused from exposure to contaminated unfiltered ‘bleed air’, of which is present in most jet aircraft. 

A Boeing 787 with ‘non-bleed architecture’ was proposed also in 1999.

But because the cause of Aerotoxic Syndrome is by commercial aircraft, it appears that governments are protecting the aviation industry rather than the public.

The first responsibility of a government in a democratic society is to protect and safeguard the lives of its citizens. That is where the public interest lies.

The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) is paid for by the public and thus is a public service broadcaster. It is supposedly allowing freedom to openly debate all H&S issues (especially inconvenient issues) with balanced arguments even for minority groups and to be tolerant of all beliefs and reasonable arguments.


On 1st February 2007:  XLA  Flight 120 from the U.K to the U.S had an unreported problem with the air conditioning which led to mass (60) passenger’s chronic ill-health.

On 18th June 2007: Captain John Hoyte founded the Aerotoxic Association at the Houses of Parliament, London to offer support to Aerotoxic victims and survivors.

A group of people holding a sign

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On 24th June 2007: U.K journalist Chris Booker (founder of Private Eye in the ’60s) who was writing for the respected Daily Telegraph; described the following cover-up of Aerotoxic Syndrome:

“it is high time this particular cover-up was blown wide open”.


June 2007: The House of Lords in London published witness Statements from the U.K passengers of Flight XLA 120 & other professional sick aircrews:

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 has not investigated 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.


2007: A documentary ‘Welcome aboard Toxic Airlines’ featuring passengers from flight XLA 120 was given to all MP’s as well as Lords and Ladies in 2009. 

21st April 2008: BBC Panorama shows a 30-minute hard-hitting documentary ‘Something in the air’ and covers the start of legal action for the U.K XLA passengers but no reference in the programme to Aerotoxic Syndrome, despite the BBC being asked to include the term. 

Is this the beginning of the BBC cover-up?

In 2009 Angus Stickler makes a programme about toxic air and includes Aerotoxic on the Today Radio 4 programme, but no further reporting since. 

In 2013 Australia’s 60 minutes feature the passengers of XLA 120 and use the word Aerotoxic repeatedly. 

***This passenger case is critical as it was comprehensively covered by parliament and the media in 2007/8 but when it went to Court in the U.S in 2012, the passengers got nothing and this was never reported by the media. A huge amount of evidence is available for this group passenger case from a single non-reported fume event on a flight, demonstrating the establishment cover-up, led by the BBC.***

February 2015: John Hoyte, Chairman of the Aerotoxic Association is called at short notice in a weekend to talk about toxic cabin air in connection with a serious legal inquest into the death of BA pilot Richard Westgate in 2012. He was filmed on the BBC on condition that: 1) He does not mention the airline he flew for (TNT & Flybe) or 2) ‘Does not to mention ‘Cover-up’). The under 3-minute live interview is done remotely from a BBC studio in Norwich to London.

2017: The formal position of the UK CAA is that there is ‘No positive evidence’ of long term/chronic human ill health, although acute/short term ill health is now accepted. Source

What is a cover-up?

Merriam Webster dictionary defines cover-up as a) a device or stratagem for masking or concealing, b) a usually concerted effort to keep an illegal or unethical act or situation from being made public. 

Who might be contributing to a BBC cover-up?

Vested interests such as airlines, governments, doctors, scientists, lawyers, aircraft manufacturers and most concerning, some media from the U.K.

Who might be interested in exposing a cover-up?

Anyone who has gotten sick from flying and if not managed correctly will be misdiagnosed and then mistreated, which will compound the illness and delay recovery.

The Aerotoxic Association is a U.K registered company who has struggled to survive and in its 12 years of existence has invested £250K in providing free support.

How are cover-up’s measured?

Aerotoxic Syndrome (AS) is still, 20 years after identification, not accepted by the mainstream establishment medicine because it would lead to costly penalties for many vulnerable industries. 

AS is an inconvenient hidden illness with multiple symptoms which are treated individually, so only a handful of doctors and patients are aware of the inconvenient cause despite growing awareness over the past 12 years, since the article was written. The costs run into billions with over one million members of the European public (frequent flyers and aircrew) having Aerotoxic Syndrome. The majority of whom have no idea what the cause of their ill health is. The BBC exacerbating it further by not publishing news about AS and aerotoxic in general. 

How has the BBC covered Aerotoxic since 2007?

The BBC rarely mentions Aerotoxic in their reports on toxic air exposures (3,640 results in this category) and this can be confirmed by searching for both Aerotoxic and BBC. 

Since 2007, the Aerotoxic Association has sent many professionally written media releases to the BBC of new scientific findings, conferences, films and countless other pieces of evidence but it is now rare for the BBC to even reply. The situation has become ‘normalised’ and both the A word and the new materials are being left out of the reporting. 

When was the BBC last approached with serious evidence?

Mike Powell was sent an email in August 2019 explaining that Aerotoxic would be exposed in the following few months but failed to respond.

In September 2019 the 13th Annual Cabin Air conference and new documentary film ‘Everybody Flies’ was held in London and the BBC attended to interview the public. The BBC was featured in the film but have yet to share their evidence with the public, which is causing increasing anger amongst the survivors as they feel like they are being ‘gagged’. 

Ten years of silence from 2009 was followed by:

In 2019, former Cabin Crew Mike Powell made an excellent programme about a new word ‘Aerotoxicity’ (so the BBC didn’t have to use Aerotoxic) but the programme was aired on the World Service at 01:00 on New Year’s Day – a clear example of technically covering the issue, whilst ensuring as little U.K coverage as possible during an international holiday.

A further programme was aired on the BBC World Service at Easter 2019 in a further effort to avoid publicity, this more interesting and serious programme has since been removed by the BBC. 

Tom Burridge, BBC Transport Correspondent has been reporting the issue since September 2019 but feels as though both journalists are being stopped by lawyers and others from full disclosure and full open debate. 

As it is always helpful to engage with local BBC correspondents – Nikki Fox, BBC Norfolk’s Health Correspondent has been fully briefed on the issue using latest evidence but has never asked for a meeting nor shown any interest in covering the issue.

There must be a British Broadcast Corporation directive from 2007 covering Aerotoxic and the journalists are respecting their paymasters. All whilst the licence fee payers are left without the evidence to openly debate; this may not be in the public interest as the BBC are supposed to be public service broadcasters and thus should be transparent, balanced and fair to all.

The bind for the BBC is that they cannot cover their own cover-up.

Yet other media can and will do so in the public interest especially at the time of a general election, wherein the BBC has been already guilty of other far less serious deliberate errors.

What is the most recent example of the BBC cover-up of Aerotoxic?

On 21st October 2019, the BBC reported a ‘chemical spillage’ on a flight to the U.S which caused crew and passengers to be hospitalised. It was thought by many experts at the time to be another typical oil ‘fume event’.

Nearly a month later on 19th November 2019, the BBC reported in a hard-hitting ‘legal speak’ that the airline was lying, and it was another oil fume event.

Was Aerotoxic Syndrome mentioned in either BBC report? No.

Is the exposure of the Aerotoxic cover-up in the public interest?

As many members of the public fly, it is estimated that around 30% of the population may be severely affected – thus it is in the public interest to know a cause of ill health and the correct treatment to deal with the illness. It is time for an open free public debate to take place and for the cover-up to be exposed!

A 2017 Dutch research paper shows that 35,000 frequent flyers with AS are in the Netherlands alone, and an estimated 1 million frequent flyers and aircrew in Europe.

Why is Aerotoxic covered up in the UK?

Other major countries in recent years including the U.S, Australia, Germany, France, Switzerland, Australia, the Netherlands and now Italy, have covered Aerotoxic and Aerotoxic Syndrome. The Italian media outlet covered both AS and Aerotoxic in a very hard-hitting 15-minute programme

This initial Italian programme will be followed by four further weekly Aerotoxic programmes.

Aerotoxic Syndrome has featured in the European media – so after 12 years in the U.K, it was decided that it was time for the Aerotoxic Association to move to Europe on the 25th September 2019 (Early Brexit) after the latest failure of the BBC to cover the issue or mention Aerotoxic.

Many media, including the BBC, are offered B&W evidence of Aerotoxic – but what single piece of absolute evidence of public illness would allow them to fully expose the Aerotoxic BBC Cover-up? 

John Hoyte

Former BAe 146 Training Captain
Chairman Aerotoxic Association

December 2019