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Flight Attendants Sue Boeing Over Alleged Toxic Fumes in Cabin

Flight Attendants Sue Boeing Over Alleged Toxic Fumes in Cabin
Joe Cortez

Alaska Airlines flight attendants are suing Boeing, claiming “bleed air” systems are toxic and in need of a long-term fix.

A group of flight attendants claim the air inside commercial aircraft cabins is hazardous and they intend to stand by these allegations in court. Chicago Tribune reports the Alaska Airlines employees are accusing Boeing of knowingly allowing hazardous “bleed air” into the cabins through ventilation systems.

The lawsuit was filed in an Illinois state court in Chicago on behalf of the flight attendants June 22. In the lawsuit, flight attendants claim Boeing has long known about problems with bleed air systems, citing an alleged internal email as proof of their theory.

“I think we are looking for a tombstone before anyone with any horsepower is going to take interest,” the alleged email from 2007 read.

In addition, the suit calls out one particular event in 2013, where a flight was diverted to Chicago because flight attendants began passing out and vomiting. They claim the situation took place due to toxic air from the ventilation system.

Though the flight attendants are requesting damages, attorneys for the group claim the legal action is not about money. “Our focus is on Boeing not fixing a problem they’ve known about for more than 60 years,” said Rainey Booth, attorney for one of the flight attendants. “The risk to any individual passenger might be low on a daily basis, but what we know is, every day people in this country are exposed.”

Other experts in the aviation field believe that bleed air incidents are the exception to the rule, instead of a major concern. “Under normal conditions, I would find it hard to believe this would be a problem,” said Chuck Horning, chairman of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s aviation maintenance science department.

The lawsuit marks the second time this year aircraft cabin air has come into question. In February, a British coroner ruled that “disclosed symptoms consistent with exposure to organophosphate compounds in the aircraft cabin air” may have contributed to the death of a pilot.

Boeing declined to comment on the lawsuit.

[Photo: Alaska Airlines]

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