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'Aerotoxic syndrome' legal action welcomed by former Norfolk pilot

PUBLISHED: 14:51 02 April 2019 | UPDATED: 14:53 02 April 2019

Former airline pilot John Hoyte. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Former airline pilot John Hoyte. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Legal action claiming airline staff are regularly exposed to toxic fumes during flights has been welcomed by a Norfolk man campaigning to highlight the issue.

Norfolk pilot and aerotoxic campaigner John Hoyte. Photo: SubmittedNorfolk pilot and aerotoxic campaigner John Hoyte. Photo: Submitted

Unite the Union, which represents cabin crew, said legal notices have been served in 51 court cases against five of the UK’s largest airline companies.

The union has backed claims alleging long term exposure to cabin air or fume events can lead to chronic ill health and life-threatening conditions.

British Airways, Easyjet, Thomas Cook, Jet2 and Virgin Atlantic are all subject to legal action over “aerotoxic syndrome”.

The airlines said they are compliant with the latest standards set out by the UK Civil Aviation Authority and European Aviation Safety Agency.

Former Norwich pilot John Hoyte, who has been at the centre of an international campaign to highlight “aerotoxic syndrome”, welcomed the news.

He said: “We must not put everything down to this, but it is a huge cause of ill health in the industry.

“It just incredible it has taken so long to process the evidence.”

Evidence supported by Unite claims fumes from jet engine bleed air, which is used to pressurise airline cabins, contains a mix of toxic compounds including organophosphates and TCP.

Unite’s assistant general secretary for legal services Howard Beckett said: “Independent expert evidence concludes that air on board jet planes can contain a toxic mix of chemicals and compounds that potentially damage the nervous system and may lead to chronic irreversible health problems in susceptible individuals.”

EasyJet said aviation regulators and manufacturers had looked at the issue and found no proof that long-term health issues arise from cabin air quality.

A spokesman said: “On occasion so-called fume events can occur.

“Research has shown that in some instances this can cause some minor acute symptoms, but no link with long term health effects has been proved.”

Virgin Atlantic said the health, safety and well-being of its passengers and crew is always a priority.

Unite is also calling for an inquiry into cabin air quality. It wants to see different oils used to lubricate engines and for cabin air filters to be installed on plans.

British Airways, Thomas Cook and Jet2 did not respond to requests for comment.

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