Retired BA pilot claims air on passenger jets isn't safe

Ceri Roberts
Retired BA pilot claims air on passenger jets isn't safe
Retired BA pilot claims air on passenger jets isn't safe


A former British Airways pilot who retired on medical grounds in 2006 claims that the air on passenger jets is not always safe, and poses a risk to the health of both passengers and crew.

The Express reports that Captain Tristan Loraine has spent the last few years working with fellow medically-retired air crew to expose the problem. Then, last month they had a breakthrough when the research of Professor Clement Furlong, an expert in biochemistry and organophosphates at the University of Washington in Seattle, showed that there are more potentially dangerous toxins in jet engine oil than previously thought. These can cause nausea, dizziness and long-term psychological damage.

Mr Loraine, who is a former official in the British Airline Pilot's Association, told The Express: "On May 1, 2001, I got a call that changed my life. A colleague told me he had been exposed to contaminated air and collapsed, would lose his job and asked me to investigate. I was a union rep and so I did.

"With the support of many unions and individuals, today, 11 years after my telephone call, here we have a new major victory."

Contaminated air is a serious issue for pilots who are exposed to what the Civil Aviation Authority calls 'fume events'.

The Express reports that pilots have to wear oxygen masks at least once a month due to fumes entering the cockpit and cabin. In some cases, this has resulted in Mayday calls and emergency landings so that crews can be taken to hospital.

The problem occurs when small amounts of oil leak into the air during the recycling process.

Now Mr Loraine and Dr Susan Michaelis, a former pilot who also had to retire on medical grounds say that the new research validates the existence of Aerotoxic Syndrome, a chronic condition which is caused by 'fume events', which is not yet recognised by doctors.

Airlines insist that they comply with safety standards and say that passengers and crew are not at risk.

However, Mr Loraine insists that the risks are real and tells of occasions when he was forced to make emergency landings and "watched passengers getting off, some coughing, some with paper up their noses due to the fumes".

A CAA spokesman told The Express: "We will continue to work closely with the airline industry to maintain safety standards on board UK aircraft."

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