Strange odor crash landings: what could be causing and is it dangerous?
Documents viewed by the service Air forcequestion the American Airlines claim that the “smell” on the plane that caused the two crew members to lose consciousness was caused by “spilled detergent”. Incident led to a flight redirectionand from Heathrow Airport to Philadelphia and the hospitalization of one of the passengers.
Records show that even before the flight there was an oil leak on the plane. Air Force sources say it was this leak that could have caused toxic fumes to enter the cabin, but American Airlines denies this.
One of the statements made in the American Airlines internal report on the October 21 incident really remains valid. It says that "a dishwashing detergent in a bottle forced two cabin crew and one passenger to seek medical help."
An American Airlines insider, not authorized to speak to the media, said it was “unthinkable” for dishwashing detergent or any other cleaning product approved for use on an airplane to cause two people to lose consciousness.
So far, American Airlines has not responded to a BBC request on this issue. In public statements, the company did not use the term “dish soap”, but described it as a “cleaning solution”.
Reports said that the plane was “thoroughly inspected” after the incident by a “highly qualified” maintenance team that conducts a “comprehensive investigation ... whenever there is a reported odor in the cabin."
“The smell of the cabin is a priority for the American leadership team at the highest level of organization,” they say in American Airlines and insist that the incident was caused by a cleaning agent that spilled during the flight.
However, BBC News saw and heard evidence that cast doubt on this claim.
First, the service was told that a strange “metallic” smell was already present in the cabin of the same aircraft before a detergent was spilled. A "strong" odor was detected during a previous flight when the plane flew in the opposite direction from Philadelphia to Heathrow.
The Air Force also learned that an oil leak occurred on the plane a few days before the incident. The part of the aircraft in which this happened is called the auxiliary power unit, or APU, and provides power to start the engines and electricians on the plane when the main engines are not working.
3 days before the plane was redirected to Dublin, a maintenance report stated that its APU showed “high oil consumption”. The leak meant that she had consumed an unusually large amount of oil over the past two weeks.
Another American Airlines maintenance document states that the APU is not working and it is determined that the installation should be repaired in the coming days.
A "poisonous smell," leading to "eye and throat irritation," was also recorded on the same plane on October 23, 2 days after the flight from Heathrow was redirected to Dublin.
In another message from the same day, the aircraft APU is described as “wet from oil”.
American Airlines claims that the smell that caused the two crew members to pass out "was not connected to the APU" because the auxiliary power unit "did not work during this period of time and during this flight."
However, a document written by an Airbus aircraft manufacturer clearly states that an APU that has an oil leak can contaminate the interior air supply even when the device is turned off.
The Airbus document, entitled “APU Exhaust Air Oil Pollution”, states that “the smell of oil or smoke in the cabin as a result of APU oil pollution can occur at almost any time and not necessarily when the APU is running.”
This is due to the fact that if oil flows from the APU, it can spill into the air conditioning duct of the aircraft.
“Strong odor fumes”
“If the APU passes oil, it enters the duct,” said Captain Tristan Lorraine, a former pilot of British Airways. “So they have an oil leak in the APU.” They can fix the APU, but they cannot eliminate the air duct pollution. ”
Captain Lorraine spent years raising awareness of the so-called “strong odor fumes” when oil or other liquids leak and potentially pollute the air supply in the cabin during the flight.
The airline does not intend to talk about the problem, and this is by no means a problem specific to American Airlines, the BBC writes.
Two crew members who lost consciousness during a flight from Heathrow are not allowed to speak with the BBC, the news service said. But it became known that almost a month after the incident, one of them experiences severe migraines, which had not happened to him before.
“The health and well-being of our crews and customers remains our top priority,” American Airlines said. “However, in the case of this aircraft and its redirection to Dublin, there is no connection with the APU or the removal of air from the APU.”
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