Calls to support former pilot from Norwich in poisoning claims campaign

Former airline pilot John Hoyte is at the centre of a fight after he quit in 2005 after suffering 16

Former airline pilot John Hoyte is at the centre of a fight after he quit in 2005 after suffering 16 years of adverse reactions, dizziness, slurring, and headaches. He now runs his flight simulator business in Norwich.Picture by SIMON FINLAY. - Credit: Archant Norfolk

A campaigner from Norwich who believes he and many other pilots and passengers have been poisoned by contaminated air inside planes is appealing for others to help with the fight.

Norfolk pilot and aerotoxic campaigner John Hoyte

Norfolk pilot and aerotoxic campaigner John Hoyte - Credit: Archant

Former pilot John Hoyte is the founder of a group called Aerotoxic Association. They, and a growing number of pilots, scientists and MPs, believe there is growing evidence air quality on flights can pose a health risk.

However, the government and Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have so far rejected the calls.

Next year promises to be a key period in the saga, with two full inquests of pilots due to be held where coroners have already cited aerotoxic syndrome as a possible cause of death and an ongoing legal case by the Unite union on behalf of 17 members who claim they've been poisoned.

Mr Hoyte, who lives in Bracondale and runs air simulator company Sim-Fly Norfolk, on Prince of Wales Road, has decided to hold a public meeting at 7.30pm on Tuesday, December 8 at The Pig & Whistle, in Westlegate, Norwich, for anyone interested in finding out more about his campaign or even assisting with it.


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He said: 'People should be interested in this as so many people fly now and this is all about public health. I have been working on this for 25 years and would like a helping hand.'

The claims centre upon the method used on most commercial planes to direct breathable air into the cabin, which can lead to contaminated air when a fault occurs. Reported ailments range from headaches, blurred vision and nausea to longer-term effects such as loss of memory.

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Last week, MP Robert Goodwill wrote to fellow MPs on behalf of the Department for Transport confirming its views, but that it supports further investigations being carried out by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Former Norwich North MP Ian Gibson is assisting Mr Hoyte in his campaign and said today: 'The airlines seem determined to fight the claims, but we all remember asbestos, how the deniers persisted in the face of mounting evidence and were eventually proven to be wrong.'

For the previous story on the saga click here

Do you have a story for the Investigations Unit? Contact David Powles on 01603 772478 or email david.powles@archant.co.uk

Science behind the claims of poisoning

Commercial airliners fly at altitudes where the air is very thin and to make it breathable it has to be pressurised.

Early planes used fresh air which was compressed by mechanical air pumps, but this method was costly and prone to breaking down, so in the last five decades the standard system has been for compressed cabin air to be 'bled' from the jet engine on the wing of a plane. Once cooled, the air is directed into the cabin.

Campaigners are concerned that air effectively enters the plane unfiltered and that potential faults in the engine seals could lead to harmful chemicals called organophosphates contaminating the air. Organophosphates are used to lubricate the engine's metal parts.

They say this can cause particularly bad health problems when so-called 'fume events' happen – a problem in the engine causing smoke to billow out – but also that long-term, low-level exposure over numerous flights also have an impact on pilots and passengers. The campaign website is www.aerotoxic.org

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