01/28/2018: Spirit Airlines flight NK517
from Akron/ Canton (OH) to Fort Lauderdale (FL) in USA
Warnings about danger from toxic gases on aircraft causing not only a serious safety risk but also severe health issues for passengers and crews are increasingly becoming a daily news item.
This time it is a Spirit Airlines Airbus 320 flight number NK-517 from Akron/Canton to Fort Lauderdale (USA) on 28th January 2018. They were en-route and cruising at altitude FL380, when about one hour prior to landing a passenger complained about an abnormal smell on board.
Cabin crew confirmed the smell, which became increasingly stronger until the cabin air became nearly "not breathable", sources report. The flight deck was informed and they in turn informed ATC about the fumes on board. About 20 minutes prior to landing the captain confirmed the bad smell in the cockpit as well, causing both pilots to don their oxygen masks. Flight attendants felt increasingly nauseous; several indicated they nearly passed out. Descending fast to below 10.000ft the captain depressurized the aircraft and the cabin air improved. The aircraft landed at Fort Lauderdale about one hour after the first passenger had complained. Emergency services treated cockpit and cabin crew while still on board, after which the entire crew were taken to hospitals. (source Aviation Herald) In other such scenarios involving toxic fumes, the pilots from a different airline declared pan-pan-pan, for a quicker emergency landing.
First medical findings indicated a seriously high level of carbon monoxide in all members of the cabin crew, with several flight attendants’ levels reaching near lethal values!, sources report.
Carbon Monoxide (CO) is not only produced by (aircraft ‘APU’) ‘exhaust’ fumes, CO is also generated (amongst other toxic particles) through thermal degradation from chemicals which are present in the jet-oil fumes, presenting severe health dangers by route of inhalation and dermal exposure. These people, passengers and crew, were exposed to the poisonous fumes for over one hour!
One flight attendant suffered a heart condition, which, as currently cannot be ruled out, could become a serious health issue. Another flight attendant suffered from disorientation, migraine and loss of memory, and a nerve ending inflammation was diagnosed. The flight attendants were kept in hospital care until Jan 31st 2018, after which they were released into home care, but they still feel ill. (source Aviation Herald)
The captain felt first symptoms of incapacitation during the landing phase. Maintenance who boarded straight after landing said they could not detect any ‘odor’ and were intending to return the aircraft to service, when the captain intervened stating that there had been a serious fume event. One of the engine ‘s ‘wet seals’ was subsequently found breached. Just because there is no smell left, does not mean there was no fume event - plus, not only are the mechanics and technicians constantly exposed to such smells, but one also has to consider the fact that not everybody has the same sense of smell and the olfactory nerves very quickly get used to a smell, sometimes within minutes or even a few breaths.
At this time we have no information regarding how the passengers are faring and if Spirit Airlines is attending their needs.
This is not the first such severe FUMES incident, which is deemed ‘air accident’ by authorities. The airline industry likes to downplay these incidents as harmless, and just some 'odour' – often even trying to explain these events away with: inconvenient but harmless smell, or new carpet, galley oven on fire, or recently even a suggestion that a passenger had opened a tin with toxic contents, which they say they had brought on board, was found in the media.
What they don’t want to admit to is, that this wet seal defect/ bleed-air issue is a known factor, with first warnings about the dangers already published as early as 1939 by Dr. H. Armstrong talking about CO poisoning of pilots, followed by more, serious warnings in 1955 by Henry Redall; in 1956 Boeing submitted a patent proposing changes from the ‘bleed air’ system to ‘ram’ air, which takes in the air through an outside inlet, with the result that the breathing air would not be laced with bleed-air emissions, heavy metals and other toxic (nano-)particles coming directly from and through the engines.
Since then, nothing has changed, except that Boeing suddenly launched their Dreamliner B787, which does not have the bleed air system, in 2011. Reports about better air on board raise the questions yet again. So one could wonder why these changes have not been implemented in other models and by other manufacturers?
In the mean time, countless pilots and cabin crew from airlines throughout the world have become seriously ill and often are forced to retire on medical grounds, losing their livelihood and licenses to fly. Many have serious ill health issues that last their entire life, some have even died at very young ages, many most likely from neurotoxins contamination in their workplace affecting the central nervous system and brain. Many are plunged in to financial crisis, as they have to pay their medical diagnosis’, treatments and therapies themselves, since the health insurers refuse to do so and the airlines don’t want to know.
Spirit Airlines’ Captain James Anderberg died in Sept 2015 after an extended illness from an extremely severe fume event in July 2015 on a Spirit Airlines flight. He and his first officer were rendered nearly unconscious. This was the most serious close call by the airline to date, coming extremely close to crashing which could have taken all life onboard. (source)
Flight Attendant Rishi (Ricky) Jeethan checked in to operate an empty ferry flight with his crew on Feb 4, 2016. The aircraft was a Spirit Airlines Airbus 319 which had been involved in multiple fume events. It was technically very damaged and had been removed from service by airline maintenance for a minimum of 5 days. As they were trying to get it scheduled at the ‚Lufthansa Technik’ in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, the maintenance logbook showed the mandatory 5-day service removal for heavy, high-velocity maintenance, engine tear down, C-check overhaul and engine wet seal replacement. Nevertheless, it seems that the airline made the very dangerous management decision to operate the aircraft anyway. The aircraft was to fly ‚ferry’ (ed: = no passengers) as 8427 Fort Lauderdale to Boston.
We are told by our sources that the pilots were advised to ignore the logbooks’ entries and to operate the aircraft regardless. They were also advised to wear their emergency quick don oxygen masks for the entire 3,5 hour flight, which would be advise given only if it was expected that fumes would be entering the aircraft; but no advise was given for the flight attendants’ health, safety and well being. Promptly, the engines leaked toxic fumes into the cabin which subsequently became "comparable to a flying gas chamber for the flight attendant" (source), who had no protection for the entire flight! Upon arrival at Boston the crew were seen and treated at Concentra Medford, MA., and Rishi filed a Spirit Air Safety and FAA Hotline report. Rishi continued to suffer from this event for most of that year with chronic, debilitating symptoms and increasing health problems. Rishi died suddenly on July 8, 2017 of unexplained kidney failure after 12 months of chronic ill health following his exposure to toxic fumes on that last flight.
Spirit Airlines is not the only airline mind you.
In 2012 British Airways pilot Richard Westgate died after suffering from debilitating ill health which he and his physicians attributed to constantly inhaling toxic fumes in the cockpit. He donated his body to research, due to which several expert scientists were able to publish their findings, warning of the severe health effects caused from the inhalation of fumes laced with neurotoxic chemicals present in thermally degraded jet oil compounds.
On Jan 30th 2014, Matt Bass, a BA flight attendant, returned from a trip and spent the evening with his friend. While everyone tidied up the dishes and cleared, Matt went to have a rest on the sofa. He went to sleep and never woke up. His friends’ dog started barking and she went upstairs to see why and found Matt had stopped breathing. She started CPR as all trained crew know how to, while the other friends called an ambulance. The paramedics took over and continued to try and revive him but to no avail. Matt’s parents decided to have a second post mortem done by a specialist forensic pathologist in Holland after the first one had brought no results. He found evidence of chronic exposure to organophosphates (i.e. the afore mentioned TCP/ TCoP), which then was confirmed by one of the world’s leading authorities in organophosphate poisoning.(source Matt Bass website).
And there are hundreds more who died far too young in their early 30's, 40's - too many not reaching the age of 60! This dedicated website publishes the sad count and honours all the British Airways crew members who have taken their final flight. One can only assume the number of premature deaths adding up from all other airlines ...
For over 70 years now nothing has been done about this scandalous problem – on the contrary the maintenance procedures seem to be getting worse rather than better, causing a massive increase of these toxic fume events which contaminate the air you breathe. The residue sticks to the aircraft interior, on walls, carpets and seats and is not washed off, so it builds up leaving toxic grime to be touched by little kids, who then put their fingers to their face or in their mouth and so ingest the poisonous left overs – never mind inhaling a constant low-level contamination of always present, nano-sized particles, findings which have been published here.
If you log onto https://planefinder.net/ and type in this tail number in the search box: N902NK it shows the history of where this above mentioned fume event plane was. It since flew multiple legs without repairs for several days, further exposing countless other crews and passengers. The plane has now disappeared off the radar. It seems it had a final flight from MSY to FLL, then: gone.
This quote is more explosive than ever: „We are looking for tombstones „ a senior Boeing engineer warned some years ago, „unless we tackle the problem.“
How many more years must go by for the industry to address this potentially deadly and accident prone safety issue, when pilots suddenly become incapacitated and don't remember what they are doing? When will they stop their obviously flippant disregard for human life, health and aviation safety? Slowly some concessions are being made, some airlines are talking about fitting filters, but it is doubtful that these filters will actually remove all the dangerous particles - others talk grandly about comissioning new studies (how many more?), and yet others, past and present are forced by court orders to take air measurements and get them analysed. Their stalling for time to find yet more excuses and flimsy 'explanations' is becoming more and more deadly, as more and more severe fume events happen.
Clearly, the Boeing engineer, as well as many others, was expecting an increase of this scandalous behaviour: the turning of a blind eye concerning the poisoning of pilots, who are supposed to be fit and clear headed to fly their passengers safely to their destinations; and no concern whatsoever for their cabin crews who are responsible for safety&health and who are life savers in emergency cases, but who become incapacitated and therefore unable to function. And what about the passengers and their health? Many fly nearly as often as crew do and subsequently are exposed over and over again! If you have been wondering about your health lately after flights, please check in here.
The evidence is piling up and hundreds of testimonies are overwhelming – when is enough, enough? When will those responsible for these disastrous conditions take action and do the right thing?
Find information on the following websites as well as books and documentaries/films that have been published high-lighting the fume event problem and offer help. Several social media groups and pages offer news and information and are campaigning for changes to be implemented.
This accident was researched and reported first by Aviation Herald - with thanks for the source referencing.
Information and scientific resources from www.aerotoxicteam.com and www.aerotoxic.org and partners.
Author © Bearnairdine Beaumont - Global Aerotoxic Team
Passengers please contact us via the websites or/and report any concerns and your experience to the FAA and submit a formal complaint to the airline.
After becoming unfit to fly and being medically 'retired' Bearnairdine became involved in scientific research for the campaign 'improve the quality of aircraft cabin air' and the helping of victims to understand their ill-health; coming from a medical background she is also a health consultant & educator with over 25 years professional and personal experience ; she is a published author of three books in two languages and the founder of the " AEROTOXIC TEAM" and 'Global Aerotoxicteam', educational website and socialmedia pages. She not only became unfit to fly, but also unable to work in her former profession due to her severe central nervous system injury; she receives a small disabilty allowance and is still fighting to receive her workplace related ill-health pension. She lives in a beautiful, but secluded area of the Swiss alps and continues to support the aerotoxic campaign via computer and telephone. She is available for media inquiries.
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