Boeing sued over 'toxic' plane cabin air

Boeing sued over 'toxic' plane cabin air
© Thinkstock

A group of flight attendants are suing airplane manufacturer Boeing for allegedly exposing them to "toxic" air inside its planes, the Chicago Tribune reports

The flight attendants, who worked for Alaska Airlines, are alleging that Boeing knowingly exposed passengers and flight crews to toxic air that was sucked into its planes through the engine by the system that is used to maintain cabin pressure during flights, according to the report. 

The paper said the lawsuit, which was filed in Cook County, Ill. Circuit Court, accuses Boeing planes of having defects with its "bleed-air" systems that make the company responsible for health problems that were experienced by the flight attendants. 

ADVERTISEMENT
A lawyer for the flight attendants told the paper that Boeing has had knowledge of the problems with its ventilation systems for years. 

"Our focus is on Boeing not fixing a problem they've known about for more than 60 years," Attorney Rainey Booth said. "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."

The lawsuit alleges that flight attendants became sick after a Jan. 12, 2013 Alaska Air flight from Boston to San Diego, according to the report. 

The flight attendants contend that toxic fumes began coming into the vents during the flight, which resulted in two of them passing out and one vomiting. 

The plane was diverted to Chicago's O'Haire International Airport when the problems were reported to the pilot. 

"I remember walking down the aisle and just gripping the seatbacks because I felt like I was going to fall over," one of the flight attendants who is a plaintiff in the lawsuit, Vanessa Woods, told the paper. 

"The next thing I know, I was on the galley floor, looking up at Faye who was paging for assistance," she continued. "She was mumbling incoherently into the PA system. It was beyond frightening."

Boeing declined to comment on the lawsuit on Tuesday, but the company has said previously that research shows that the air in the cabin of its planes is safe to breathe. 

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) union said Tuesday afternoon that is supports the Alaska Airlines employees that filed the lawsuit against Boeing. 

“We support our fellow Flight Attendants in their efforts to seek justice after breathing in contaminated air on board the aircraft. Their experience is similar to many others throughout the airline industry who have experienced contaminated air events," AFA-CWA president at Alaska Airlines, Jeffrey Peterson, said in a statement.

"In fact, AFA has been fighting for cleaner cabin air for decades while the industry has refused to acknowledge the problem," Peterson continued. "More recently AFA has been supporting research at the University of Washington to create a blood test that will be able to determine if crew members were poisoned so that proper treatment could begin as soon as possible. Our efforts will continue as we push for sensors and filters to be installed in all aircraft as well as changes to future aircraft design to avoid engine bleed air that can become contaminated. AFA's global efforts to define this problem so it can be fixed will continue until contaminated bleed air has no way into the cabin ever again.”

-This story was last updated at 5:49 p.m.