There have been several threads written on ATS about Aerotoxic Syndrome over the years, but this is probably the most blatant coverup to date of the
problem. Air crews have been complaining for years about this problem but it's only recent begun to be studied seriously, and that only because
several pilots have died due to complications of TAS, and quite a few have had their medical revoked and never flew again after a TAS flight.
On January 16th, 2010, US Airways 767-200 N251AY was on approach to Charlotte, from Saint Thomas, when the crew requested that the flight be met at
the gate by medical assistance. Prior to beginning the approach, the purser had entered the cockpit and asked the pilots if they were feeling ok. A
number of passengers and cabin crew had reported a "gym sock/old locker/dirty laundry" type smell, and that they weren't feeling well. Both pilots
looked at each other in surprise, and noticed that their eyes were extremely red. At that point, they noticed that they were showing symptoms of
headache, stiff neck, and having to concentrate harder on simple tasks, along with other symptoms.
The aircraft was met by ambulances, and during the initial examination for carbon monoxide poisoning (which was later ruled out due to the odor), and
the pilots were put on oxygen. Two and a half hours later, at the hospital both pilots showed extremely elevated levels of carboxyhemoglobin. Both
pilots reported the headache lasted approximately a week, with the stiffness, sore throat, and red eyes lasted a week to 10 days, while the fatigue
never went away. Both pilots were examined later, and showed reduced respiratory pulmonary function. As a result of this incident, they lost their
medical and never flew again. The pilot died this month, reportedly as a result of complications to this incident.
In March of 2010, US Airways confirmed oil had leaked into the bleed air system, causing the January incident. In all there were a total of 17 people
taken to the hospital between December of 2009, and January of 2010, after flying on this aircraft. One crew member on the January 16th flight
returned to work. Between December 2009, and January 2010 it was reported that 8 pilots and cabin crew were unable to return to work, after flying on
this aircraft. On March 17th, 2010 another incident occurred, this time blamed on bad aft door seals. That makes a total of four fume incidents
between December 2009, and March 2010.
Now here's where it gets interesting. A search of both the FAA and NTSB database, shows 0 fume events for that time period, and no records for
N251AY. There's been previous evidence of keeping Toxic Air Syndrome, and bleed air leaks quiet, but this is the first time that it has appeared to
be this blatant.
Not all of these are Aerotoxic Syndrome, but it gives an idea of how prevalent the problem of people getting sick on an aircraft really is.