Flight Attendant Wins Suit Over Bad Air On Plane

A victory in an Australian court questions the quality of air in airplane cabins.

Joanne Turner, a former flight attendant for East-West Airlines, says she suffered from long-term respiratory problems after breathing smoke in the cabin of a flight from Sydney to Brisbane in 1992.

The High Court has awarded her nearly $130,000 in damages.

Turner, who filed the suit in 2001, and waited nearly a decade for a judgment, says compensation was not her motivation in taking the legal action.

"I just hope it will help fellow crew members who also have cases before the courts and help the industry become safer," she tells the Telegraph newspaper.

There is a name for Turner's condition, Aerotoxic Syndrome, and scientists say it is caused by toxic "bleed air" from aircraft engines being recirculated in airplane cabins.

Up to 200,000 airline passengers each year may develop illnesses caused by breathing bad air in plane cabins, according to Dr. Mackenzie Ross, a clinical neuro-psychologist at University College London.

The Telegraph says its own investigation in 2008 showed hundreds of incidents involving toxic air had been reported by UK pilots.

The Turner case is a "significant win," says Captain John Hoyte, chairman of the Aerotoxic Association, a UK group set up by former cabin crew to support syndrome sufferers. "We have known for a long time that if people breathe toxic oil fumes in the confines of a jet it can cause serious ill health."

Photo, JorgeBrazil, Flickr
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