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Former Norwich pilot says easyJet's plans to install air filters is industry's first acknowledgement of 'aerotoxic syndrome'

PUBLISHED: 15:43 28 September 2017 | UPDATED: 16:16 28 September 2017

John Hoyte has spent the past 11 years campaigning to raise awareness about the supposed health risks from toxic fumes entering passenger cabins and cockpits. 
Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

John Hoyte has spent the past 11 years campaigning to raise awareness about the supposed health risks from toxic fumes entering passenger cabins and cockpits. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

A former commercial pilot from Norwich say easyJet's plans to install air filters in its aircraft is the industry's first acknowledgement of "aerotoxic syndrome".

John Hoyte has spent the past 11 years campaigning to raise awareness about the supposed health risks from toxic fumes entering passenger cabins and cockpits.

The issue has long been denied by airline companies, but is feared to be behind several deaths of pilots and crew members.

Mr Hoyte, 61, worked as an airline pilot for 30 years before taking early retirement as a result of ill health, which he believes was caused by breathing in toxic fumes.

Now, easyJet has announced it is working with a commercial supplier to reduce incidents of cabin fumes, which it said can have short-term health effects.

Mr Hoyte said the move was the industry’s first acknowledgement of the issue, and hoped other airline companies would follow suit.

“EasyJet are to be congratulated on being the first airline in the world to filter the up until now unfiltered ‘bleed air’ from the jet engines,” he said. “But in reality, it is similar to the decision of cigarette manufacturers to filter the smoke from cigarettes in the 1950s.”

During high-altitude flights, the atmosphere is too thin to breathe, so compressed air, known as “bleed air”, is drained from the plane’s engines and fed into the cabin. It is cooled, but not filtered, and faults with engine seals can lead to it being contaminated with oil or hydraulic fluids.

EasyJet said its plans to “identify and reduce” incidents of fumes in aircraft cabins had “no link” with studies on whether long-term illness occurs in airline crews due to exposure of cabin air.

A spokesman said: “Independent medical research has found no evidence for any such link and concluded that long-term toxic effects would not be expected.”

Unite the Union welcomed easyJet’s move, and has urged for a public inquiry to be undertaken.

The union’s national officer for civil aviation, Oliver Richardson said: “The move by easyJet to fit cabin air filters is a step in the right direction but more can and must be done to understand and combat toxic cabin air.”

Earlier this month, a two-day international conference on aircraft cabin air was held in London.

To assist with Mr Hoyte’s campaign, email john.hoyte@aerotoxic.org or visit www.aerotoxic.org

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