Something in the air? Part 3

01 Jan 2020

The final part of my trilogy of reports on an ongoing problem for the aviation industry….

Brave air crew, pilots, passengers and engineers have spoken to me for BBC Radio 4 and World Service of their frustration in tackling an ongoing crisis in the aviation industry. Hear their powerful testimonies, the latest litigation and what can be done to resolve an issue that people claim causes illness and even death…

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2 thoughts on “Something in the air? Part 3

  1. Thank you for this strong, impressive investigation.
    Hopefully, in the-not-too distant future, changes and
    improvements will be implemented and eventually a
    successful outcome concerning toxic air on aircraft.
    Well done Mike.

  2. I have read today’s article with great interest ‘ Fume events: The toxic gases that may be harming aircrew and passengers’ and noted your radio programme tonight. As an aeronautical engineer, we have replaced many air conditioning units due to fumes in the cockpit: root cause – seals damaged allowing oil to leak into the conditioning unit. This can also happen in the engines allowing bleed air to become contaminated and enter the system. Low concentrations would be hard to detect in a large cabin area. However, I would expect in a cockpit the effect may be more relevant.

    Turbine oils constitute a large group of fluids used in the industry as pressure and heat-transferring, anti-wear, anti-corrosion and lubricating fluids. These fluids are categorized by their intended use and not by their chemical composition and are composed of base oils and possible additives.

    Synthetic base oils within aviation appear mainly to be synthetic hydrocarbons,
    polyalkylene glycols and phosphate esters; while the mineral base oils are made up from refined petroleum oils and are thus complex mixtures of aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons.

    Additionally, synthetic hydraulic oils also often contain a large fraction of phosphate esters due to the fire resistant properties of such compounds.

    This demonstrates that organophosphates are used in the aviation industry and we should be monitoring the incidents that occur. EASA should take the lead.

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