Ex-pilot from Norwich claims aircraft fumes ended his career

PUBLISHED: 11:38 26 May 2014

John Hoyte of the Aerotoxic Assoication.

John Hoyte of the Aerotoxic Assoication.


A former airline pilot has pledged to raise awareness and help other aircraft crew and frequent flyers after his career was cut short because of illness.

John Hoyte, of Norwich, had been flying passenger and commercial planes for 30 years when he took early retirement as a result of ill health, which he said was caused by inhaling toxic fumes during flights.

The 58-year-old has established the Aerotoxic Association and an office in Upper St Giles Street in the city to help those who have breathed in contaminated air during flights.

Mr Hoyte said he suffered chronic fatigue as a result of years of flying jet planes and inhaling toxic fumes from aircraft engines, which had got in to the cabin through the air conditioning system.

A report from University College London in 2006 said that up to 1,967 flights a year in the UK may experience a “fume event”, which would lead to around 197,000 passengers suffering from the effects of aerotoxic syndrome.

Mr Hoyte, who piloted jet aircraft between 1989 and 2005 and learnt to fly in Norfolk in the 1970s, set up the Aerotoxic Association in 2007.

The former pilot said he thought his fatigue was caused by regular night flying and the nature of his job.

“I first became aware of it in 1990. I was in Cologne and I was in a supermarket when the ceiling started going up and down and I started sweating.

“My memory started to go and I found it difficult to find words – I thought I had early dementia.

“I never mentioned it to doctors because I loved my job and I did not want to jeopardise that. In 2004/05 I started to feel particularly unwell and realised I could not carry on flying because I was a liability to passengers.

“I could not believe it when six months after stopping flying I was back to myself. I feel lucky to get my health back,” he said.

Mr Hoyte, who has written a book called ‘Aerotoxic Syndrome: Aviation’s Best Kept Secret’ that is published on June 18, said he wanted governments and airline companies to recognise the health risks and take measures to reduce the problem.

He added that the association had sold more than 1,000 face masks to help block out toxic fumes on aircraft.

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