RESULTS OF

BALPA FLIGHT CREW SURVEY

SENT OUT IN OCTOBER 2001

 

 

 

106 REPLIES FROM 600 FORMS SENT OUT TO B737, 757 & A320 CREWS

 

 

A           DEMOGRAPHICS:           

 

1. GENDER                            Male       104/106 Female      02/106

                                                                                2. AGE                    20-30:      18           30-40:        40         40-50:      25           50+:         23

 

B           FLYING HISTORY:           

 

                Years flying:                                                          1-2:          7              3-5:          12           6-15:        36           16-25:      24           26+:         27

                Current Aircraft Type:                         Not specified:         01

B737:                        02 (incidents given were 757 related)

                B757:                      102

                Airbus:     01

 

C           EVENTS:

 

Have you ever experienced a smoke or fume smells on the flight deck event?   Yes   96/106     No   10/106

 

 

How many smoke or fume smells on the flight deck events have you experienced ?

 

1674 +

1667 + EVENTS ON B757 FROM ONLY 93 CREWS.

(NOTE: MANY  STATE  NO AS SEVERAL SO THIS IS ENTERED AS ONLY 2)

On which aircraft type did this/these occur ?

 

OF 96 YES ANSWERS ONLY 3 PEOPLE CLAIMING 7 EVENTS WERE NOT B757. ALL OTHERS WERE ON B757.

1 had 1 event on ATP (Electrical)

1 had 3-4 events on Tridents

1 had several events on BAe 146 & RJ100 (APU oil fumes)

 

What do you think, or what was the cause?

 

 

OF THE 93 CREWS WHO EXPERIENCED FUMES ON 757, 80 STATED THEY BELIEVED CAUSE WAS OIL CONTAMINATION OF AIR SYSTEM, OTHERS RELATED IT TO A/C FUMES, 1 TO OTHER ACFT AND 1 DE-ICING FLUID, REST UNKNOWN ORIGIN.

 

How long were you exposed to abnormal fumes during each event?

 

ANSWERS VARY FROM SECONDS UP TO 4 HOURS.

How would you describe each event?

 

 

 

ANSWERS INCLUDE:

 

OILY SMELL, PLASTICENE TYPE SMELL, SICKY SMELL,

TASTE OF OIL, INSIDIOUS, NAUSEATING, BAD SOCKS, FUNNY SMELL, BLUEISH MIST, SMELLY FEET, BITTER TASTE, BANANA SMELL, STINGING EYES, DRY THROAT, IRRITATING NOSE, BAD SMELL, TUNNEL VISION, TINGLING SKIN, LIGHT HEADINESS, METALLIC TASTE, HEADACHE, BURNING SMELL, HAZY SMOKE, VISIBLE FUMES, HEAD FELT ODD, SPLITTING HEADACHE, HOT OIL SMELL.

 

Did both pilots experience the event, fumes or smells?

 

OF 92 YES REPLIES TO FUMES, 89 SAID BOTH PILOTS EXPERIENCED FUMES, A FEW COMMENTED THAT FUMES WERE DETECTED TO DIFFERENT DEGREES OF STRENGTH SOMETIMES BY PILOTS.

ONLY 3 SAID NOT ALWAYS BOTH PILOTS.

 

If you had an event, did you see or consider seeing your company doctor or GP ?  If not, what influenced your decision NOT to see a company doctor or your GP ?

 

 

MOST (90%) DID NOT SEEK MEDICAL ADVICE. REPLIES COMMONLY STATE INDIVIDUAL FELT BETTER WHEN IN FRESH AIR AFTER EVENT AND NO PERCEIVABLE ILL EFFECTS AS REASON FOR NOT SEEKING MEDICAL ADVICE.

INTERESTING COMMENTS FOR NOT SEEKING MEDICAL ADVICE INCLUDE:

  • EVENT SHORT SO DID NOT THINK IT WAS A HAZARD.
  • IGNORANCE.
  • FELT BETTER AFTER FUMES HAD CLEARED.
  • COMPANY DOCTOR INACCESSIBLE OR NOT AVAILABLE.
  • COMPANY DOCTOR SAID SYMPTOMS WERE FOOD POISONING SO GO HOME AND REST. I WAS NOT CONVINCED.
  • TOO TIRED TO HANG ABOUT FOR BA DOCTOR.
  • SYMPTOMS ABAITED SO THOUGHT I WAS OK.
  • DEVOTION TO DUTY.
  • LACK OF ILL EFFECTS.
  • KNOWN PROBLEM.
  • HAD ANOTHER FLIGHT TO DO (COMMERCIAL PRESSURE).
  • TOLD NO NEED TO WORRY ABOUT LONG TERM EFFECTS.
  • COMPANY SAID FUMES HAD NO LONG TERM HEALTH EFFECTS.
  • NO TESTS AVAILABLE.
  • PART OF THE JOB ON THE 757.
  • COMPANY HEALTH DEPT SAID DID NOT NEED TO SEE A DOCTOR.
  • UNWILLING TO RISK LICENCE.
  • COMPANY DOCTORS NOT TO BE TRUSTED.
  • NIGHTSTOPPING SO ONLY LOCAL DOCTORS AVAILABLE.
  • EVENTS SO COMMON, I WOULD BE GOING TO COMPANY DOCTOR EVERY TOUR!

 

If you saw a Dr or GP, what tests or advice was given?

 

MEDICAL ADVICE / TESTS GIVEN TO THE FEW WHO SEEKED IT INCLUDED:

 

  • GO AND REST.
  • EFFECTS FULLY REVERSIBLE AFTER FRESH AIR EXPOSURE.
  • SAW COMPANY NURSE WHO ASKED IF THEY FELT OK AND THEN SENT THEM HOME, NO TESTS DONE ONLY NAMES PUT IN A LOG.
  • NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT.
  • HAEMOGLOBIN TEST
  • LUNG FUNCTION TEST
  • BLOOD TEST
  • BLOOD PRESSURE CHECK
  • NO KNOWN ILL EFFECTS FROM OIL SMELL INHALATION
  • CHOLINESTERASE TEST – NOT DONE BY COMPANY

 

Did you use Flight Deck Oxygen?

 

MOST WORRYINGLY SAY NO WITH COMMENTS LIKE:

“ONLY WHEN REALLY BAD”.

CREWS APPEAR TO BELIEVE THAT SHORT EXPOSURE EVENTS WITHOUT  VISIBLE FUMES NOT WORTHY OF USING OXYGEN.

 

Did you report the event or file an ASR?

 

SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT OF NON ASR-MOR REPORTING. THIS IS A VERY SIMILAR TREND TO THE EXTENSIVE UNDER REPORTING FOUND IN AUSTRALIA BY THE SENATE INQUIRY INTO THE BAE 146 PROBLEM.

 

ONLY 61 CONFIRMED ASR REPORTS OUT OF 1586+ FUMES B757 EVENTS. MOST OTHERS CLAIMED TO BE REPORTED BY REPPORT OR TECH LOG ENTRIES

 

 

D           HEALTH SURVEY:    Have you experienced any of the following symptoms during your work pattern?

 

 

                                                                                                         No Answer          Occasional              Sometimes           Often            Long-Term                 Never

Smoke on the flight deck

11

19

06

01

N/A

74

Smelt fumes on the flight deck not associated with another aircraft in the vicinity?

01

42

34

25

01

03

Headaches/light headed/dizziness   

04

35

15

03

02

47

Irritation: eyes, nose, throat

03

39

19

04

01

40

Disorientation      

12

09

03

00

00

82

Memory impairment, short-term

08

12

04

01

02

79

Concentration difficulties/ confusion

07

22

07

02

01

67

Blurred vision, tunnel vision

09

04

01

00

00

92

Nausea, vomiting, GI problems

09

16

05

00

01

76

Fatigue, weakness, decrease performance

07

32

18

05

01

43

Respiratory distress, difficulties, change

10

04

02

00

01

89

Numbness (head, limbs, lips, fingers)

05

13

03

01

00

84

Balance/ coordination difficulties

10

03

02

00

00

91

Joint pain/ muscle weakness

09

10

05

01

00

81

Intolerance to chemicals/odors

10

04

11

01

00

80

Intolerance to foods/ alcohol

10

04

04

01

02

85

Skin irritations

10

08

07

06

00

73

Immune system disorders

10

03

02

00

00

90

General increase in feeling unwell

06

29

07

02

03

59

Diarrhea

12

17

11

02

01

63

Cancer (please state type:)

2 DISCLOSED:1 BASAL CELL CARCINOMA & 1 PROSTATE

 

 

Health prior to flying career

No Answer      02

Good    104

Moderate   00

 

Have symptoms increased since flying?

23

Yes      55

No       28

Do symptoms increase more on duty?            

23

Yes      52

No       31

Do symptoms decrease a few hours after duty time?

25

Yes      39

No       42

Do symptoms improve on Holidays or days off?

25

Yes      55

No       26

Did you have symptoms Prior to flying?

24

Yes      05

No       77

Do symptoms only occur After exposure incidents?

23

Yes      38

No       45

 

 

E           OTHER COMMENTS, SYMPTOMS, ILLNESSES:

 

COMMENTS MADE INCLUDE:

 

  • After my most noticeable occurrence, I experienced tingling in extremities for 24 hours, in addition to a feeling of lower than normal concentration & memory skills….
  • Company doctors cannot be trusted. This is too big…
  • Captain had degraded attention and I could not allow him to fly the approach or landing…
  • How much did my  company  know about this but chose not to mention?…
  • I feel that as a regular reporter of fumes in the flight deck that engineering are not taking my reports seriously as I am a “regular complainer”…
  • My worst experience was when I was asked to “report further” on oily smells on flight deck. On return to my departure airport because they were so bad, and we both felt ill I grounded the aircraft – (Report & ASR)….
  • I don’t think the company are doing nearly enough to resolve the obvious problem on the 757. Engineering department certainly appear unsympathetic in this regard…
  • It is my impression that hot oil smells during T/O & first few minutes have recently become a much more regular event on 757s. Of 20 + events most have been in the last year…
  • First time on I was on B757 XX-XX smell not so prevalent, second time XX-01, much more often…..
  • I am now on B737, partly because of fumes and now feel much better…
  • Long term feeling of fatigue…
  • I reckon that every 3rd-4th sector on the B757 I can detect oil vapor…
  • I am concerned that I may have suffered long term / permanent damage…
  • When reported, was told unless you use Oxygen nothing will be done…

 

 

 

 

Monday, March 11, 2002

 

 to Cabin Safety