Hey guys! I am writing this to inform more people about the dangers of Fume Events.
Because airliners fly at very high altitudes, the cabin must be pressurized to provide a safe quantity of breathable oxygen to passengers and crew. The cabin is pressurized with bleed air tapped from the jet engine’s compressor sections, which are before the combustion sections. That air is very hot and must be cooled by heat exchangers before it is directed into the air conditioning units, which cool it even further.
What are fume events?
Fume events in aviation are hazardous. These occur due to engine oil fumes/odors leaking into the bleed air from the engines or Auxiliary Power Unit (APU). The bleed air on commercial aircraft supplies the cabin and cockpit with fresh air from the engines. The Federal Aviation Administration does not require airlines to install a filter between the engine compressor and the people who breathe the air. The breathing air can have oil fumes in it. The engine oil used on the A320 series aircraft has a toxin called Tricresyl Phosphate, used in sarin gas. The oil also contains N-Phenyl-1-naphthylamine, which is one of the 13 known carcinogens (per OSHA). These fumes are hospitalizing and/or killing passengers and flight crews. This is shown on a Spirit Airlines flight 708. First Officer Daniel Tellmann states that he had no memory of landing the aircraft in Boston ( Feldman). This fume event that Flight 708 had was terrible. The captain had been exposed to these fumes for multiple legs, and he sadly passed away from the short and long-term effects of the event 50 days later. No checklist or any documentation was stating what to do if you have a fume event. Boeing has denied that these fume events happen even though scientific research backed up that these events exist! Former American Airlines Terry Williams actually sued Boeing over this issue as she is not able to work for American Airlines due to this incident. Another flight crew member, Susan Michaelis, also lost her job from a fume event. Susan collapsed after her flight on July 23, 1977. Susan was also on a documentary called “Angels Without Wings.” This documentary brings light to this whole fume event situation. “The film depicts former Australian pilot Susan Michaelis’ 13-year effort to expose what she calls the aviation world’s biggest cover-up” (Gold 11). A group of people who shall remain unnamed has implemented a checklist with multiple significant airlines to help minimize the impact that the fume events have.
Effects of breathing these Toxic Fumes
Some effects that you may experience from fume events include headache, nausea, severe vomiting, severe memory loss, disabling coughing spasms, asthma, sore throat, fatigue, speech impairment, loss of balance, vision impairment, and numbness and tingling. These effects will not only allow you to lose your medical, but they can significantly impact the people around you.
How can we prevent this?
Pall Aerospace, an aviation filtration company, has developed a filter to minimize the amount of toxic chemicals entering the cabin. These filters have been tested and will be flying around soon on some commercial aircraft.
In conclusion, Fume events are an active issue that we as a community need to pay more attention to. It is a shame that people have lost their medicals over this and even lost their life. Thanks for reading!
If you would like to learn more about this or if you have any questions feel free to PM me or leave a comment :)