When jet aircraft first flew in the late 1950s, the engineers knew that they had to provide compressed air in airliners to support life at high altitudes and so they designed mechanical compressors which did the job well. All of the early jet airliners such as the DC-8 and Boeing 707 used this separately compressed air.
But in the early 1960s, the accountants looked for cheaper, simpler ways to provide that air. It was realised that all jet engines have vast amounts of compressed air available from the forward section of the engine, before the fuel is added and burned.
It wasn't long before they were taking this hot, high pressure air and piping it into the cabin. They would call it "bleed air", as it was "bled off" the jet engine compressor section.
At the time, many engineers warned that if the bleed air should become contaminated with oil from within the engine or hydraulic fluid, then everybody in the jet aeroplane would not be breathing pure air but a contaminated mixture of air and...oil.
However, the risk was thought negligible, such that bleed air quickly became the only way to get compressed air into the cabin of each and every aircraft since that period, including turboprop aircraft where a jet engine drives a propeller.
The fact is that bleed air and oil are allowed to mix due to:
• a basic design feature which deliberately allows small amounts of oil to pass through oil seals to provide lubrication;
• the fact that jet engine oil seals prefer a constant temperature environment to perform "normally" and tend to leak when warming up or cooling down;
• the fact that when power changes are made, such as on take-off or at the top of descent when an incredible number of revolutions are suddenly increased or decreased, there are differing tolerances within the jet and the potential for oil to leak.
There are a number of basic facts which must be presented. There will always be a few minor differences, but the following facts are known:
• aircrew and passengers generally breathe the same air; if the pilot is sick, so will the passengers be sick;
• all jet aircraft use bleed air: turboprops, Air Force One, corporate jets;
• the chemicals in the jet engine oil are extremely toxic, especially since an organophosphate (OP) is added to make the engines last longer and provide fire retardant properties.
What are organophosphates? They were developed during World War II by the Germans, specifically to do harm to human nervous systems. They have since been used in pesticides, e.g., in sheep dip--hence the dreadful neurological illnesses affecting many sheep farmers in the UK during the 1980s and 1990s. Gulf War military personnel were also exposed to OPs and became mysteriously ill.
It is known that chronic exposure to OPs can go on to change personalities and character, affect relationships and moods, and devastate lives.
Breathing organophosphate fumes in a confined space is arguably much more hazardous than breathing in tobacco smoke, and scientists agree that a cocktail of chemicals working together synergistically is collectively many times more dangerous than any chemical in isolation.
Most people would imagine that the oil components would be filtered out, but the incredible fact is that bleed-air lines are not filtered--except, as one lawyer has darkly noted, by the passengers' lungs.
There are filters in the actual aircraft, but not in the bleed-air lines. The aircraft manufacturers helpfully put these filters inside the aircraft to filter the air, but only the air which is already in the aircraft.
Why is aerotoxic syndrome not accepted? It shouldn't be too surprising to know that industry has a habit of working together on certain issues and having vested interests. It could be argued that the aircraft industry starts the problem by designing a flawed system where oil and air can mix. But who is to blame? The engine manufacturer? The airframe manufacturer? The oil industry? The seal manufacturer? The health industry? Definitely not the airlines, although they too are party to the cover-up.
Airlines have a duty of care. At the moment, there are two distinct features: the poisoning and the cover-up. By now, though, we should realise that there are simple technical fixes that could be adopted:
• filter the bleed air;
• fit toxic fume detectors;
• remove OPs from jet engine oil.
It is high time that airline bosses be questioned about a basic duty of care to their aircrew and customers, if only to check that they understand the significance of the emerging, unstoppable science.
While the airline industry and authorities would obviously prefer the "slowly does it", incremental approach, in the meantime an enormous amount of ill health is being misdiagnosed and lives are being wrecked as a systems failure is allowed to go largely
unchecked and airlines give no warnings as to the likely damage or risk which is now known to result from exposure...