February 28, 2008 : PILOTS SPEAK OUT AGAINST TOXIC CABIN FUMES

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Chris Grimshaw

After decades of inaction and denial by governments and the airline industry, former airline captain Tristan Loraine has decided it’s time to tackle the problem of engine-contaminated toxic cabin fumes. He could be the aviation industry’s biggest whistle blower. Corporate Watch gets the details from Susan Michaelis, a former Australian Pilot, who is undertaking a PhD at UNSW in Australian has been researching this issue for over a decade.

Is four decades long enough to address the problem of aircraft contaminated air? The aviation industry, backed by governments, have spent much time and money denying the problem, downplaying it or appearing to deal with the issue. Therefore it is time the public demanded that the air in an aircraft from the engines, air they pay good money for, is properly filtered. Much aircraft air is supplied direct from the engines, contaminated with synthetic jet engine oils. While the oil is clearly good for the engines, it now appears it is not so good for the people who are forced to breathe it when it leaks into the air supply.

Tristan Loraine is the Co-Chair of the Global Cabin Air Quality Executive (GCAQE) and on the oversight committee of the US Federal Aviation Authority cabin air research. After years of sitting on airline industry committees dealing with the cabin air issue he has decided it is time the public was told the truth of what is going on – what has in fact been known for nearly 50 years.

In 2006, after a 'fume event' while captaining a Boeing 757 out of Heathrow, Tristan Loraine found TCP, the engine oil additive, in his blood. With increasing ill health after repeated exposures to regular fume events, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) deemed him no longer fit to fly as a commercial airline captain. His airline advised that he was to be medically retired and as such his 25 year airline career came to an end.

His experiences have been put into his novel, Toxic Airlines and a recently completed feature length documentary Welcome Aboard Toxic Airlines, which will be screened at a number of cinemas in the UK, beginning with Rich Mix Cinema in London on Sunday March 9 2008 at 1pm and then at the Phoenix Picture House in Oxford on the 16th of March 2008 at 1.30pm, both followed by a question and answer session with the film maker.

Panorama will also be airing a program made in association with Tristan’s Fact Not Fiction Films company on 24th March 2008 and BBC South’s Inside Out program looking at why Tristan felt it necessary to make the documentary on Friday 29 February at 7.30pm and also shown on Sky Channel 984. The airline industry, via the UK Comittee of Toxicity (COT) and the Department of Transport, has effectively dismissed the issue as unproven, requiring ‘further research’.

However - papers have recently turned up in the Australian Senate revealing how money changed hands to bury this issue years ago and how the evidence was hidden. Australian former pilot Susan Michaelis has published the first definitive reference manual covering the complete issue. The 844 page ‘Aviation Contaminated Air Reference Manual’, available on-line, has been highly commended by the Royal Australian Air Force ( RAAF), who noted the ‘widespread prevalence of denial of the existence of the problem, particularly among the aircraft operators and aviation regulators.'

In October 2007 Lord Tyler asked the UK government what discussions they have had with the Civil Aviation Authority since the publication of Michaelis' manual. The response given by Lord Bassam of Brighton was ‘Ministers and officials regularly meet the Civil Aviation Authority to discuss aviation’. Denial at it’s best.

Meanwhile aircraft continue to fly with no detection systems or filters to clean the air bled off the engines. When fume events occur passengers are never told. Perhaps the Government and ministers involved should attend the cinema screenings in March. They might learn something.

Aviation Contaminated Air Reference Manual online www.susanmichaelis.com

Tristan Loraine's book - www.toxicairlines.com

Tristan Loraine's documentary - www.welcomeaboardtoxicairlines.com

See also

www.aerotoxic.org

www.toxicfreeairlines.com

www.aopis.org

www.gcaqe.org