Airplane cabin air quality is about to improve

Recently there have been reports that on some flights, toxic jet engine oil fumes have leaked into aircraft cabins, poisoning susceptible passengers. An expert interviewed by New Scientist observed: "Compressed air is routinely drawn off engines and supplied to aircraft cabins. If the seal inside the engine is not secure, engine oil can leak into the cabin and contaminating air with toxic tricresyl phosphate (TCP)."  The two aircraft with the highest reported incidence of "reported cabin air contamination by toxic organophosphates in pyrolised engine oil fumes" are the 146/Avro RJ series [manufactured by British Aerospace/BAE Systems] and the Boeing 757."

But such hazards -- along with fears of catching a nasty virus on a flight -- may soon be a thing of the past. The Economist reports on a
new development could help passengers and crew breathe more easily. This week two British firms—BAE Systems, a defence and aerospace giant, and Quest International, a small producer of equipment used to sanitise the air in hospitals and nursing homes—announced that they had successfully adapted Quest’s technology for use in aircraft. They make bold claims for AirManager, their new system. It can be fitted during a routine overnight service and uses less power than a light bulb, but is capable of zapping just about all the bacteria, viruses and other biohazards in cabin air—as well as destroying chemical contaminants and pollutants. And it also removes nasty smells.
BAE Systems, which now owns this air-cleaning system now a worldwide distributor for AirManager, owns the company that originally made one of the two aircraft models most notorious for incidents of air contamination.  Airplane safety blogger  Learmont notes "if you had asked BAE the day before the 15 September press conference that launched this new system (called AirManager) whether contaminated cabin air was a problem, they would have said it was not - or at least not one of any significance."   Learmont continues:
The rights of crew and passengers whose health has already been ruined by neurotoxin fume events have to be properly recognised....

Within a month or two of today, Professor Clement Furlong of the University of Washington, Seattle, will have identified the biomarkers that scientifically link sickness in passengers and crew to aircraft fume events. Then the industry's lawyers will no longer be able to rely on legal technicalities to avoid facing reality.
At least the launch of AirManager is a sign that reality is beginning to be faced in a practical and beneficial way.  


  1. Hi, just to correct a statement within this blog.
    BAE Systems do not own the company or the technology within the AirManager cabin air decontamination system.
    They are a worldwide distributor for AirManager, developed and patented by UK SME Quest International (UK) Ltd.
    Quest have developed the technology over many years and are partnerring with large organisations such as BAE to deliver the technology to as wide a market as possible.
    The technology can be deployed in many and varied industries; basically wherever Man the air/environment has an impact on Man or wherever Man has an impact on the environmnet, AirManager can improve the air quality.

  2. Thanks for clarifying this point Ian. I have edited the post to correct the error.

  3. Hello, I am an Embry Riddle Aeronautical student stationed at Peterson Air Force Base Colorado Springs Colorado. The aircraft cabin is a challenging microenvironment for maintaining the health, comfort, and well-being of passengers and crew. During flight, the passengers and crew experience noise, reduced atmospheric pressure, vibration, low relative humidity, somewhat variable temperature, and potential air quality degradation. In light of these facts, it is not surprising that passengers and crew have registered complaints about the aircraft cabin environment for decades. Studies and firsthand accounts continue to document poor air quality onboard aircrafts, heightening concern for both flight attendants and the public. Poor air quality especially affects flight attendants since the cabin is their workplace. Flight attendants who routinely work in cabins with poor air quality suffer from respiratory problems and health difficulties, including severe headaches, loss of balance tremors and short term memory loss. Despite reports of such health related incidents, the Federal Aviation Administration has failed to offer protection or recourse to those who work within this environment. The purpose of this survey is to collect information about whether there is a correlation to flight attendance performance and the quality of air in the cabin that has affected your work performance. If the general population is knowledgeable about the issue with cabin air and how it affects the health of flight attendants, then the FAA can make necessary corrections to this issue. All answers are confidential. You do not have to put down any information that you feel will affect your career. However, the more the questions that are answered the better the results to see the correlation of this issue.

    Please take survey: ://