Personal injury claims expected after airliner cabin contamination fears

The recent case in the news of the American Airlines flight, which was forced to turn around in mid-air and return to its place of departure as a direct result of both cabin crew and passengers falling victim to an unexplained air contamination, has sought to bring the subject of in-flight fume exposure to the fore once again.

Those on the flight, which took off from London’s Heathrow Airport and was headed for LAX in America, experienced a range of symptoms according to first-hand accounts from people aboard the airline – with reports of at least one crew member fainting.

In the event the pilot chose to turn the plane around and dump fuel after cabin crew alerted them to the situation panning out.

The flight was met by emergency services on landing back at Heathrow, where crew members and passengers were assessed by paramedics at the scene to establish what the cause of the sudden onset of illness might have been, and moreover what could have potentially contributed to the mass feeling of illness encountered by a significant percentage of travellers and airline staff making the journey at the time.

Union leads calls for in-flight fume detectors after recent mid-air incidents

Although nothing conclusive was found to be the cause in this particular instance, it has again raised further awareness of episodes like this and similar; and has provoked Britain’s largest trade union to lobby for a public inquiry into what’s colloquially referred to as ‘aerotoxic syndrome’.

Unite represents a significant percentage of the UK’s cabin crew, and in that capacity has led calls to determine just what’s behind such incidents and, more importantly, what threats such unexplained leaks pose to both cabin crew and passengers’ health.

Aerotoxic Syndrome is the name coined to describe any illnesses believed to be caused by unwittingly (and largely, unavoidably) inhaling cabin air which is in some way contaminated by organophosphate and other chemical compounds derived from engine lubricants.

Unite are of the strong opinion that cabins at the very least need to be equipped with fume detectors to enable identification of root causes to contaminates potentially inhaled by members of its union and the general public, however for its part the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) is adamant that incidents of this nature remain few and far between, and what’s more maintain that there’s no evidence to suggest any long-term health implications as a legacy of breathing in smoke and/or fumes whilst aboard an aircraft.

This official statement from the CAA hasn’t however stopped Unite from instructing a leading law firm to begin investigating some 50 cases of this ilk, whereby current and ex-cabin crew have gone on record as admitting they’ve suffered the effects of Aerotoxic Syndrome.

The case for claims of personal injury to be lodged in the future (or indeed, retrospectively) are not out of the question, depending on the medical elements which will comprise part of the projected investigations, and which could, subsequently, pave the way for a raft of claims and counter claims by all parties in the foreseeable future.

 

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