A retired pilot says ‘contaminated air’ on planes is making people ‘seriously’ ill.

Airport news for Flights,Travel on 28/03/2011.

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A retired commercial air pilot insists that the contaminated found on airliners is responsible for people developing serious illnesses. The ex-pilot’s position appears to contradict the government’s line that onboard fume leaks happen in ‘exceptionally rare’ cases.

Dr Susan Michaelis used to be a pilot for a unit of Australian airline Qantas. Dr Michaelis stopped flying for medical reasons. She says she got sick because she was exposed to toxic fumes on the planes.

Dr Michaelis completed a PhD dealing with the subject of dirty air on planes. She says the problem continues to be one of the air-travel industry’s biggest issues, one that has plagued the business for long time.

The statement by Dr Michaelis was countered by a statement by the British Airline Pilots Association. A spokesman for the organization, Balpa, said most British pilots do not consider such fume leaks a frequent problem.

He said the subject of toxic air inside aircraft is a controversial issue. He admitted that a few pilots had taken the same position of Dr Michaelis but insisted that the majority of pilots do not believe there is a major problem with poisonous fumes.

He went on to say that one such incident would be one incident too many, however. He said his body had urged the government to research the subject.

The Transport Department has commissioned Cranfield University to study the issue. The report is expected to be made public ‘very shortly’.

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