The revelation that a second flight in as many days was forced to turn back to the UK following an outbreak of sickness among the cabin crew has added further weight to calls for a public inquiry.
Unite said the damage caused to cabin crew by ‘aerotoxic syndrome’ must be fully investigated.
The union considers the flights – one to South Africa and one to the United States – are further evidence that leaks from engines are causing the crew to feel sick and may be further impairing the health of workers.
Unite is pursuing the 60 cases of individuals who have symptoms consistent with the syndrome, and is fighting too on behalf of a deceased cabin crew member.
Commenting on the recent aircraft incidents Howard Beckett, Unite’s executive legal director, said, “The case for a full scale public inquiry into aerotoxic syndrome builds daily. The aviation industry simply cannot continue to ignore the clamour for action.
“But we also want manufacturers to take action now. The technology behind the circulation of air within aircraft has not moved on much at all since the 1950s meaning that fume events are happening with regularity.
“Repeated exposure to these ‘events’ is what we believe leads to aerotoxic syndrome – so we say to the industry, sort this out because people are being put at risk,” Beckett added.
“It is worth noting that organic phosphates are found in engine oils, these are live threatening poisons that are used in chemical warfare,” he explained.
“That is why it is beholden on all parties not to brush this off. Let’s have the public inquiry where this issue can be considered fully and all necessary actions taken thereafter.
“Unite is determined to get action to address this public safety menace,” Beckett argued. “We will not have passengers and our members put at risk.
“We will not rest until the industry acts to eliminate the risk of aerotoxicity, and that those who have had their lives or their loved ones lives blighted by this syndrome get the justice they deserved.”