In a landmark report, Senior Coroner for Dorset, Stanhope Payne has said that toxic fumes in cabin air pose a health risk to frequent fliers and aircrew.
Mr Payne said people regularly exposed to fumes circulating in planes faced “consequential damage to their health”.
The Independent reports:
Payne, inquiring into the death of Richard Westgate, a British Airways pilot, called on BA and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to take “urgent action to prevent future deaths”.
The urgency behind Payne’s call for action is likely to be welcomed by campaigners who have raised similar concerns for a number of years.
Payne’s report is the first official UK recognition of so-called ‘aerotoxic syndrome’. The phenomenon has long been denied by airlines but has been blamed by some for the deaths of at least two pilots and numerous other incidents in which pilots have passed out in flight.
Frank Cannon, the lawyer for Westgate’s case, told The Telegraph: “This report is dynamite. It is the first time a British coroner has come to the conclusion that damage is being done by cabin air, something the industry has been denying for years.”
Cannon said that he was acting for approximately 50 other aircrew allegedly affected by the syndrome, working for airlines such as Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Thomas Cook and easyJet. He is also representing two passengers.
Commercial passenger planes are equipped with a system which compresses air from the engines and uses it to pressurise the cabin. However, they have been known to malfunction and allow excess oil particles to enter the air supply.