Skip to main content

Aircraft: Air Conditioning

Volume 474: debated on Thursday 3 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether (a) the Civil Aviation Authority and (b) her Department has commissioned research on the effect of oil leaks of engines on passengers and crew of Boeing 757s. (198164)

[holding answer 1 April 2008]: The health and safety of passengers and crew is a priority for the Government, which is leading research into “fume events.” This research is not exclusive to Boeing 757s.

In 2007 the Department for Transport began a world first research project to try to capture and analyse substances released during transient fume events. The first stage of this work was to identify and test equipment capable of sampling any potentially harmful substances in cabin air. The report into this first stage work was published by Cranfield University on 21 February after peer review. It is published on the Department’s website ( The next phase of work is to use the equipment identified to capture real-time fume events; this work is being developed.

In addition, the Committee on Toxicity published their report into the cabin environment in September 2007. The report is available on the Committee's website:

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what representations she has received from the airline industry on illnesses caused by chemicals from oils and lubricants leaking into cabin air supplies. (198165)

[holding answer 1 April 2008]: The British Air Transport Association (BATA) is an active member of the Aviation Health Working Group (AHWG), the stakeholder forum for aviation health. A number of airlines have volunteered to participate in the cabin air sampling study.

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many representations she has received from (a) airline pilots, (b) passengers and (c) air crew on illnesses relating to cabin air contaminated by engine leakage. (198550)

We would not necessarily expect individual pilots or cabin crew to contact the Secretary of State as their main representative organisations, BALPA and the T and G, are members of the Aviation Health Working Group, the stakeholder forum for all aviation health issues. With regard to passengers, figures quoted by the Air Transport Users Council to the House of Lords inquiry into ‘Air Travel and Health in 2007 noted that “out of a total of 20,000 written complaints since January 2001, 58 were categorised as medical”. Of those 58 the main issues raised were pregnancy; injuries, typically from skiing; and allergies, typically from peanuts.