The recurrence of a fume event on a Eurowings flight and how it was handled
Each workplace is subject to certain requirements which are described in the relevant workplace regulations(1). These regulations are intended to ensure the safety and health of workers when setting up and operating in workplaces. In commercial aircraft the cockpit is the pilots’ workplace. Therefore, any airline commercial carriers are responsible for ensuring healthy working conditions. In this Eurowings (formerly Germanwings) case, the responsible carrier is the parent company, Lufthansa. The health of cabin crew personnel – whose workplace is, of course, the aircraft cabin – is also the responsibility of the operating carrier. And we must not forget the passengers in the aircraft.
A news headline dated 09.01.2018 has shocked us again:
“Several injured crew members after fume event on A320 of Eurowings” (successor company of Germanwings).
Although no solutions have yet been implemented to prevent such fume events, the airline’s handling of it is much worse, as the report(2) makes clear. The fume event occurred enroute to London Heathrow , but after landing Eurowings concluded that a simple “airing” of the aircraft by opening the doors was sufficient to make conditions safe, and intended to board passengers for the return to Düsseldorf. However, the collapse of a flight attendant and his hospitalization convinced Eurowings to cancel the flight. Subsequently, pilots flew the aircraft back to Düsseldorf – wearing oxygen masks. A good airing clearly is not enough.
After such an incident, all ventilation ducts must – from the compressor in the engine to the aircraft interior – be disassembled and cleaned, and any engine leaks corrected. For this, an aircraft must be in maintenance for at least two days, as such a problem cannot be remedied on the ground within the standard turnaround time.
Furthermore, the manner in which the BFU (German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation) prefers to ignore such “accidents” leaves much scope for speculation…
In this context, we would like to refer again to the flight log(3) of Andreas, who completed 88% of his flights on machines that have fume events in their histories.
“These are not all hypochondriacs”
On the other hand, it is gratifying that the aero toxic syndrome is finally being discussed in the medical trade press(4). It would be desirable if all doctors were informed and trained in this subject in order to understand and treat affected flight crew and passengers in the future.
Always remember: it can happen to anyone.