A coroner has warned that exposure to toxic fumes in plane cabins could be putting flight crew and frequent fliers' health at risk.
According to the BBC, the comments come in a leaked report ahead of an inquest into the death of British Airways co-pilot Richard Westgate, who believed he'd been poisoned by longterm exposure to contaminated cabin air.
Stanhope Payne, the senior coroner for Dorset, said that people regularly exposed to fumes circulating in planes could face "consequential damage to their health".
He has call on the Civil Aviation Authority and BA to take "urgent action to prevent future deaths".
According to the Independent, Payne's report is the first official UK recognition of 'aerotoxic syndrome'. The condition has long been a contentious issue, being denied by some airlines, but blamed by some for the deaths of at least two pilots and other incidents in which pilots have passed out.
Mr Westgate died in 2012, and in his report the coroner says his body "disclosed symptoms consistent with exposure to organophosphate compounds in aircraft cabin air".
According to the Daily Telegraph, the coroner explained that commercial passenger planes have a system that compresses air from the engines and uses it to pressurise the cabin.
But this can malfunction, with excess oil particles entering the air supply. In a confined space, with air recirculated, the longterm effect on frequent fliers and cabin crew can be harmful, he said.
Frank Cannon, the lawyer for Mr Westgate's case, told the Daily 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."
Mr Cannon is also acting for around 50 other air crew members allegedly affected by the syndrome, working for airlines ranging from Easyjet to Emirates.
Dr Susan Michaelis, a former pilot who became the first person to gain a PhD in this area in 2011, is head of research at the Global Air Quality Executive.
She told theExpress: "The industry are so busy denying there is a problem that hey have no time remaining to look at the evidence.
"This is reprehensible conduct at its best. Just imagine if the crew in perhaps one or two of these incidents had not put on oxygen. It could have been a disaster."
Best new flight routes launching in 2015
Toxic fumes on planes putting passenger lives at risks, warn experts
British Airways will start direct flights to the historic Polish city from Heathrow in summer 2015. From 1 May, the service will operate four times a week on Mondays, Wednesday, Fridays and Sundays, with hand baggage only flights costing from £37 one-way and return checked-in luggage flights from £104 return. Krakow is famous for its historic city centre, which was the first in the world to be recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage centre, because of its beautiful Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. As well as being a centre of Polish culture for tourists, many also make the journey to the nearby former Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz to pay their respects.
WOW air will offer low-cost flights to historic American city Boston from Gatwick on 27 March 2015, with prices starting as little as £99 each way. The flights (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday) will make a short stop in Iceland's capital Reykjavik before continuing to Boston. As the largest city in New England, Boston is home to famous universities, one of America's most iconic baseball teams and the Freedom Trail.
easyJet will start three new flight routes to Porto from Manchester, Bristol and Luton Airports in summer 2015. The thrice weekly, year-round flights join London Gatwick in offering cheap flights to Portugal's second largest city, with fares starting from £30.99 each way. The ancient port city, built along the hills overlooking the Douro River, boasts a historic centre, meandering lanes and a diverse mix of architecture, as well as plenty of port-tasting opportunities.
Monarch adds Greek island Rhodes to its summer schedule for 2015. The flights will be from Gatwick and Manchester every Wednesday from May to September and fares start from £39.99 one-way. With stunning sunsets, traditional Greek food and 3,000 hours of sun a year, Rhodes is one of the most favourable summer destinations. Explore the ancient history of the island, see the stunning natural beauty and crystal waters, or just simply relax in the sun.
Canadian airline Air Transat is introducing its first ever UK to St John’s service in summer 2015 when the flights (from £448 return) from Gatwick to the pretty Newfoundland city commence. The twice-weekly service has one of the shortest routes across the Atlantic with a flying time of just over six hours and will operate from 18 June to 2 September. Flights depart from Gatwick every Tuesday and Thursday, and return from St John’s every Monday and Wednesday. Over 500 years old, St John’s is full of character with a bustling harbour and narrow, criss-crossing streets which take visitors on a historical journey. While exploring, stop at the many art galleries, heritage sites, museums and fine boutiques. Those feeling active can climb one of the steep hills which offer unrivalled views of the city.
easyJet will start flying from London Gatwick to the city of Stuttgart on 29 March 2015, with fares from £38.99 each way. Home to Mercedes Benz and Porsche, Stuttgart is leafy and boasts a village feel. It's best explored in the summer when you can enjoy the beer gardens of Schlossgarten Park and the mineral baths of Bad Canstatt.
Delta Air Lines is introducing a non-stop daily service from Heathrow to Philadelphia in April 2015, with flights costing from £620.16 return. Philadelphia is steeped in history and is the birthplace of America, home to the Liberty Bell, a resonant symbol of freedom around the world. The city, designed on an easy to explore, walkable grid system, boasts friendly neighbourhoods, cafes, restaurants and bars to relax in. With no sales tax on clothing and shoes, it is a bargain for shoppers and a great place to shop.
Next summer, easyjet will become the only UK airline to offer flights to Essaouira in Morocco, with two services a week from Luton. The flights will start on 1 May 2015 and cost as little as £40.99 one-way. The coastal city is famous for its Portuguese fortress and the old Medina. It is popular among surfers and tourists in search of a laidback atmosphere.
Following a 15 year hiatus, British Airways will be running a daily service from Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur from 27 May 2015, with World Traveller economy fares starting at £708 return. The many cultures, unique blend of heritage, abundance of cuisines and arts have always put Malaysia on the map as a must-visit destination. From the buzzing city of Kuala Lumpur to the serene beaches of Langkawi and the vibrant forests of Malaysian Borneo, the country offers something for travellers of all ages and with all kinds of interests. In KL, you can enjoy the huge, air-conditioned shopping malls, wander around Chinatown and check out Little India.
Etihad Airways is bringing Abu Dhabi closer to Edinburgh with the launch of non-stop daily flights from the Scottish capital to the UAE's capital city on 8 June 2015. Flights will cost from £455 return and holidaymakers travelling to the city can enjoy year-round sunshine, pristine beaches, spectacular sand dunes and the cosmopolitan lifestyle, while discovering a different side to the UAE to Dubai.