The Global Cabin Air Quality Executive (GCAQE) represents more than 800,000 airline staff and consumers and congratulates the Boeing Aircraft Company for designing the Boeing 787 so it can provide clean breathing air to passengers and crews. For over 50 years, all commercial jet aircraft have used the flawed practice of supplying passengers and crews with unfiltered breathing air taken directly from the compression section of the engine using a process known as “Bleed Air”. This has been done despite the aviation industry knowing ‘’bleed air” can by design become contaminated with toxic synthetic jet engine oils and despite knowing aircraft have no form of contaminated air detection systems fitted – despite aviation regulations requiring them – to warn when the air is contaminated. The Boeing 787 is unique in that it uses a new “bleed-free” architecture through the use of electrical compressors that ensures passengers and crews are no longer exposed to oil fumes. Contaminated air exposures continue to occur on a daily basis and compromise flight safety and passenger and crew health. The Boeing 787 is the only commercial “bleed-free” aircraft flying today.
There was significant attention at the recent Farnborough International Airshow on the new Airbus, Embraer and Boeing commercial aircraft designs. However, the GCAQE notes that all major aircraft manufacturers are planning to use the conventional flawed and outdated “bleed air” technology for cabin and flight deck ventilation on their new aircraft types. The GCAQE calls on all airframe and engine manufacturers, to only use Boeing 787 “bleed-free” technology on all newly-manufactured or new type aircraft to protect crews and passengers and to introduce engineering air filtration solutions for all non Boeing 787 aircraft.
It is unsafe to breathe aviation engine oil fumes that contaminate the ventilation air on “bleed air” equipped aircraft. The European Commission has recently classified one of the organophosphates present in some major engine oils as a “Substance of Very High Concern” (SVHC) because it may cause harm to the unborn and impair fertility. A wide range of United Nations and REACH hazard classifications exist for the chemical constituents in engine oils. Thus, it is unacceptable for the industry to continue to supply unfiltered engine “bleed air” knowing that no engine seal can exclude all oil, and that varying amounts of oil will leak into the system and be supplied directly to the cabin and flight deck for passengers and crew to breathe.
Our view held by workers and consumers is all the more important given the recent case study report revealed by Die Welt, on a post mortem of a 43 year old British Airways pilot that raised significant concerns about repeated low level exposure to organophosphates on aircraft. The same concerns raised 60 years ago in 1954 by the leading British scientist Norman Aldridge.