Two cabin crew members became violently ill and collapsed during a recent Flybe flight on a BAe 146 aircraft between Birmingham, England and George Best Belfast City Airport in Northern Ireland. The Transport and General Workers' Union, which represents Flybe's cabin crew, says the crew members' illness was caused by a "toxic gas" in the aircraft cabin. The union is calling for an investigation.
A news article about the incident in the Belfast Telegraph quotes union officials who say this was "the latest in a number of potentially disastrous mid-air incidents in which crew members working for various airlines have become dangerously ill during flights."
Campaigners who believe the incidents are due to deadly toxins from jet engine oil contaminating the air supply have warned that the 'fuming' incidents are putting the long-term health of crew and passengers at risk and are also in danger of causing a major air catastrophe if pilots become incapacitated.Mr. Henderson went on to say, "There have been numerous incidents and they can't continue to go unexplained when the health and safety of the cabin crews and the passengers on board the planes are at stake. If these incidents are down to organophosphates, then that is what the airlines need to be carrying out checks for, to see if their staff and our members have been exposed to it."
Details have emerged in a CAA report into a terrifying episode last month on board the Flybe jet.
Passengers on board the BAe 146 plane flying into Belfast from Birmingham were completely unaware of the drama at the rear of the aircraft, and of the fears of other terrified cabin crew that they may not have been able to deal with an emergency with incapacitated staff.
Dessie Henderson, senior organiser of the Transport and General Workers' Union in Belfast, says it's just one of an increasing number of 'fuming' incidents which are feared to be leaving airline staff and passengers facing possible long-term health problems due to so-called "aerotoxic syndrome".
While declining to comment on the specific incident, a spokesman for Flybe said that all of the company's aircraft are manufactured and maintained to the highest industry standards.
"Any incidents involving sickness experienced by cabin crew, flight crew or passengers are taken very seriously by the company, with appropriate medical support always provided.The UK The Government's Committee on Toxicity is said to be examining the threat from contaminated cabin air.
"The statistically very small occurrences of on-board sickness indicate that our systems and processes are robust and more than meet all CAA regulatory demands.
"Flybe are at the leading edge of co-operative joint research in this area and are comfortable that our expertise marks us out as industry leaders."