Cabin crews take court action over toxic fumes inflight

Seventeen current or former cabin crew are taking a number of British airlines to court claiming they were poisoned by contaminated cabin air.

Crew claim cabin air contaminated and damaging to health

Crew claim cabin air contaminated and damaging to health Image by Iwan Gabovitch / CC BY 2.0

The United union, which represents 20,000 attendants, is funding the legal cost of the lodged proceedings and expects there will be further cases.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the pending cases follow hot on the heels of a coroner hearing on the death of BA pilot Richard Westgate earlier this year. The coroner said that fumes in aircraft posed “consequential damage” in particular to the health of crew and frequent fliers.

Two months later, Unite sought a public inquiry on the issue and at the same time raised the alarm over insufficient research or monitoring of aerotoxic syndrome.

This claim has been contested by the Civial Aviation Authority (CAA) who say that incidents involving smoke or fumes on a plane are very rare, adding that there has been no evidence furnished of long-term harm on health.

However the attendants taking the legal action claim that they became ill after inhaling fumes contaminated with engine oil and other toxic chemicals.

The BBC says it has looked through uncensored safety reports and which were submitted to the CAA that highlight 251 separate incidents of smoke or fumes inside a large BA passenger jet in the 13 months between April last year and last month. It said that there were over 100 cases of illness reported, while the administration of oxygen was required on 28 flights.

The death of at least two pilots has been blamed on aerotoxic syndrome while it has also been blamed for occasions where pilots have passed out while flying. The syndrome has also been said to be responsible for damaging the health of cabin crew and passengers who fly regularly.

The CAA said that both crew and passenger safety was of great importance to it and the authority constantly worked to improve safety standards for fliers.

A BA spokesperson emphasised that the airline would not use an aircraft if they felt it was a health or safety risk to customers or crew.

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