Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Former airline staff support film exposing dangers of cabin air

Taken from Big Issue in the North magazine dated 3-9 November 2014. Please buy a copy when you see a seller. 

Former airline pilots and cabin crew have pledged their support for a new film that highlights the dangers of contaminated cabin air on planes.
A Dark Reflection is a Fact Not Fiction Films drama starring Georgina Sutcliffe, Rita Ramnani, Marina Sirtis and Nicholas Day. It will be screened at the American Film Market on 7 and 8 November and will be released in the UK in February 2015. Based on a real life story, the film follows an investigative journalist who is drawn into examining flight safety after her air traffic controller boyfriend is suspended from work.
Design flaw
The film has been directed and produced by former British Airways (BA) pilot Tristan Loraine. In 2001, as a member of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA), Loraine received a request for help from a colleague who was set to lose his job as a result of an illness he claimed had been caused by exposure to contaminated air.
Thus began a lengthy series of inquiries that led Loraine to become convinced that a fundamental design flaw in jet planes was allowing the air in the cockpit to become contaminated with hazardous organophosphates (OPs), which can cause an illness known as aerotoxin syndrome.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), Department for Transport, Health Protection Agency and BALPA have denied that toxic gases pose any danger to airline staff. However, a number of former pilots, cabin crew and passengers have been diagnosed with the syndrome, including onetime BA cabin supervisor Dee Passon. Two years ago, she conducted a survey of airline crew and found that almost a quarter had taken time off work for depression. Cancer rates were also found to be above the national average.
The CAA and Department for Transport have criticised the survey, arguing that it was not conducted in a scientific manner. Both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats committed themselves to an inquiry into the issue when in opposition, but the idea was dropped when they came to power in 2010.
The Aerotoxic Assocation was formed by retired airline pilot John Hoyte seven years ago.
Phil Galland*, a member of the association, is an experienced pilot from the North West who left his job two years ago after he started to suffer from memory loss.
He said: “My brain does not work and while my family have got used to my condition, it can cause embarrassment in mixed company, when people can just think I am stupid. I have tried to improve my health through exercise but I quickly become exhausted.”
Legal action
Galland believes his poor health is the result of breathing in fumes coming out of hot engines during walking visual inspections he conducted. He has a legal case in the pipeline led by lawyer Frank Cannon, who is also conducting civil action against BA on behalf of dead pilot Richard Westgate. Before his death in December 2012, Westgate alleged that he had been poisoned by toxic fumes on passenger jets. A study in the Journal of Biological Physics and Chemistry later found that he had been badly affected by OPs.
Another former pilot, Leonard Lawrence, quit his job in 2004 after becoming concerned that he could not think clearly enough to fly. Five doctors later declared that he was suffering from the effects of OP poisoning.
Passon, Hoyte, Galland and Lawrence have all praised A Dark Reflection. “It should help ensure passengers and crew know there are contaminated air problems that the airline industry, the aviation authorities, the government and BALPA won’t recognise or deal with,” said Lawrence.
A BALPA spokesperson said: “We do not believe the airlines, NHS, universities, the government or the regulator are engaged in any form of cover-up – the currently available information suggests air crew and passengers are not at additional risk due to chemical exposures in aircraft air.”

* Name has been changed

To find out more about the film go to:-

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