Airline Working to Reduce Toxic Cabin Fumes

A recent Aviation Week article reported that the airline Lufthansa is working on proposals to minimize fume occurrences on its fleet of Airbus A380s. The initiatives include procedural changes, modifications to the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, and better supervision of cabin air quality.

Our personal injury attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm wish to bring to public notice that according to scientific research, toxic fumes on planes are associated with severe brain damage, especially in pilots; the condition is known by the name “aerotoxic syndrome.”

The airline’s measures were in response to a number of strange cabin fume incidents experienced on its A380 services, particularly when flying out of Singapore. The airline believes that climatic conditions may have had something to do with the occurrences.

Cabin air is circulated by way of the bleed air system with air drawn in from inside the engines. Though the industry holds that the system is safe, some pilots and cabin crew have filed lawsuits alleging that they suffered severe health issues from the toxic fumes. The A340-600 and BAe-146 are also associated with heightened fume emissions.

Lufthansa began fitting protective covers in front of the bleed air inlets to prevent fumes from getting circulated throughout the cabin. Tricresyl phosphates (TSPs) were suspected of being associated with the more severe fume events.

The airline was also planning a new system which involved the bleed air system being turned off at the time of engine start-up, when frequently small amounts of leaked kerosene are burned off. At the time of publication, the procedure was awaiting approval by Rolls-Royce (R-R), Airbus and the European Aviation Safety Agency.

The carrier separately commissioned the creation of sensors to be fitted in the cockpit. Their purpose is to record concentrations of substances in the cabin air as soon as pilots became aware of any unusual odor.

Rolls-Royce revealed that it was working with different aviation academic and regulatory organizations for assistance in understanding and preventing cabin odor occurrences.

Lufthansa is still struggling with a public fallout from a near catastrophic accident in late 2010 pertaining to fumes on a Germanwings Airbus A319. Germany’s accident investigation office BFU released an initial report into the problem in September.

The pilots of a planned flight from Vienna to Cologne/Bonn noticed a strange odor in the cockpit during the final approach. During final approach to their destination, the first pilot said he was feeling very sick, that his arms and legs were becoming numb, and he put on the oxygen mask. The second pilot experienced similar symptoms and he too put on an oxygen mask. The first pilot could neither follow nor comprehend that was happening, and that they had to land even though they had not completed all pre-landing requirements.

After landing, it was clear that the two pilots forgot to switch on the APU and withdraw the flaps, among other responsibilities. When they were sent to a local hospital, the first officer was diagnosed two strange blood parameters. He was not fit to fly for six months after the incident.

When Germanwings technicians analyzed the aircraft they detected the odor in the cockpit. They ruled out fuel and determined it to have stemmed from deicing fluid. There were no other unusual discoveries from engine checks and the aircraft resumed operations a day later.

If you suspect that you or a loved one inhaled toxic fumes on an aircraft, consult a physician immediately, and contact a personal injury lawyer about filing a lawsuit against the responsible airline. Our attorneys will explain your legal rights and help you secure the best possible settlement, free of charge.