A Government Transport Minister today (Tuesday) wrote off dangerous ‘fume events’ in aircraft, which are said to affected the health of thousands of pilots, cabin crew and passengers, as merely “unpleasant”.

The Minister spoke in a mini-debate in the House of Lords, following an admission by British Aerospace that filters were needed to reduce the effect of engine oil leaking into cabin air on their planes. Liberal Democrat Peer and Cabin Air Quality Campaigner, Lord Tyler, led the debate saying, “Will the Minister now accept that the decision by BAe would seem to indicate that it now takes this problem a great deal more seriously than it has in the past because it is investing money in these systems?”

Responding Lord Faulkner of Worcester – speaking for the Government – said, “We accept that some people experience unpleasant smells during the course of a flight and that there are occasional fume events that create those unpleasantnesses.” The evidence of ill-health effects was inconclusive, he claimed. “We need to establish whether there is contamination from the engine oil into the cabin”.

Commenting after the exchange, Lord Tyler, said: “I have seen minister after minister go through the Department for Transport and none has yet grappled with the seriousness of this issue.

“It’s staggeringly complacent to fob parliamentarians and campaigners off with the idea that what is at stake is peole experiencing simple ‘unpleasantness’.

“If any of his family or friends had had their long-term health diminished by the manifest leakage of engine oil into cabin air, he would not use such cavalier language.

“BAe’s own change of tack is a clear admission that there is a problem here, just as pilots and cabin crew have long said there was. If the industry is beginning to lift its head out of the sand, it must be totally unnecessary for the Government to adopt an ostrich-stance at this stage.

“Worse still, government research which is presently underway doesn’t even command the confidence of the campaigners involved, because the Department has consistently relied on the flawed conclusions of the Committee on Toxicity, ignoring bodies of other research and the manifest ill-health of many who have worked in commercial aircraft.”

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