The Aerotoxic Logbook (ATLB) in English (EN)

The problem has been known since the 1950s - roughly 70 years and nothing has ever been done about it.  The air in the cabin is still ‚bled off’ (the engines) in airplanes - with the well-known possible consequences for flight safety and health, in particular that of  flight crew. We have the cultural history on 'Flying is safe' and the ongoing problems investigated at www.ansTageslicht.de/cabinair (EN).

Although the cabin air is 50% re-circulated in modern aircraft types, the basic problem remains unsolved. With one exception: the Boeing B787.  This is/was also the state of knowledge at the first big conference on this topic in London in September 2017. The presentations can now be viewed here: www.aircraftcabinair.com  

There are many reasons why no solutions are found: the targeted influencing of scientific discussions, the airlines’ economic interests, the links between politics and air transport industry and other reasons.

The ‚Aerotoxic Logbook’, launched in January 2017, is a first comprehensive documentation addressing the problem of potentially contaminated cabin air (www.ansTageslicht.de/Kabininenluft - German) and documents what is happening in this area.  Or, what is not happening. And why not. This German language blog (www.ansTageslicht.de/ATLB) is now also available in English and can be accessed directly via this permalink: www.ansTageslicht.de/ENATLB.

The information we collect in German is translated by Bearnairdine BEAUMONT who operates the network www.aerotoxicteam.com  and the blog www.aerotoxicsyndrombook.com/blog.

With the ‚Aerotoxic Logbook’ we want to achieve international networking,  bringing together all initiatives and activities to communicate about this unsolved problem and to initiate solutions. At the same time it is a scientific experiment: What must happen before a problem is addressed?

November 2018

Once again we received a not very enlightning answer from the BFU. But that is obviously not what this authority is about.

On August 13th of this year, we wanted to find out why the co-pilot of the Germanwings aircraft, which had apparently been involved in a severe fume event on December 19th, 2010 while in the landing phase to Cologne-Bonn Airport (view www.ansTageslicht.de/Germanwings), was not allowed to see a medical report  about his state of health, which was made a whole year later. After this incident, the co-pilot was unfit to fly for over six months,  the captain was able to return to flying just four days later. A typical situation, showing how people’s bodies with their genetic pre-/dispositions metabolize or detox foreign substances differently.

The first answer referred to data protection reason:  because of the need to guarantee the protection of sensitive security information in accordance with Art. 14 of Regulation (EU) 996/2010. Not necessarily comprehensible when someone wants to know the medical results of his own state of health.

Furthermore, we received the answer (which we could not really understand, which is why we repeated the question - in the mean time twice -): That the expert opinion evaluated and compared the facts which are interwoven due to the captain and the co-pilot having experienced the same event. The listing of the clinical data of two people in one medical report does not make sense to us. For data protection reasons, one could black out all the information that the other should not see, which is a common procedure.

For this reason we asked again why this did not happen. And also, if we were to understand the BFU's statement, that the expert opinion considers both the captain and the co-pilot in terms of content at the same time and ‚interwoven’, due to experiencing the same event in such a way,  that the clinical data of both were continuously compared and intertwined? And if that was the case, why was that done? We documented these questions on November 7th.

We have received an answer to that, which we summarize here. We would like to spare our readers’ the trouble of trying to figure out the somewhat cumbersome answers.

The BFU press office answered our question no. 1, whether we were to understand the first answer (that the report considers both pilots together), in such a way that all clinical data are continuously interwoven with each other, with:

Instead of answering yes or no (for clarity), they convolute a series of 143 words and numbers to - 853. „Yes“ would have meant 2, „No“  would have been 4 characters. And the original explanatory phrase also reappears in the bundle, to which we had requested an answer for reasons of clarity (see above).

According to the BFU, our question as to whether this was intentionally done and/or whether it was customary for the BFU to do so, was unnecessary, as it was answered in the set of explanatory 143 words.

However (answer to our questions 5 and 6), in such cases the persons concerned can view a draft of the final report, which they could comment on.

‚Report’ however does not mean that it includes the medical opinion, only the final report of the investigation of the "event" in question. So, that what is not (or should not be) included in the final report must not be revealed to those affected. At any rate, the BFU's wording on this point is crystal clear.

7th November 2018

The BFU has answered - instead of answers: 2 complaints

We had sent several queries to the BFU with entry date 13th August. We quoted from the first answer the BFU gave us, which we wanted to have clarified. These were our questions, but instead of clear answers to our questions, the BFU Press Office complains.

Allegation no.1:

That we had published their answers, which could only be seen as factual information, as quotations.

You have to know that press offices are usually dissatisfied with the media and journalists, if they either don't write what the Press Office would like them to write, or if there is a critical follow-up. In this respect, the BFU's complaint is nothing unusual.

However, there is no legal entitlement for an authority not to publish its answers as quotes. Nevertheless, they are obliged to provide information.

It is common practice that the media like to quote such answers, or parts of them. And has its reasons to remain as close as possible to what an authority answers. And also not to have to expose oneself to the accusation that one has not correctly reproduced the information. The fact that one or the other authority tries to enforce its own modalities of reproduction is explained by the fact that authorities are basically monopolies. And they forget that they are - actually - service providers: for people, including the media. But this obviously does not go well with the BFU's official culture.

Allegation no.2:

That we published only a part of their last answer, omitting the decisive part.

Presumably, (but we don't yet know exactly why we have to ask again to gain clarity), we didn't clearly understand one of their phrases and therefore verified it beforehand because, from our point of view, it was rather "nebulous",  at least not to be understood clearly, namely: That the medical opinion in question, which the pilot in question is not allowed to see, is obviously constantly mixed with the clinical information of both pilots, i.e. that of the captain and the co-pilot. And that is why the co-pilot - for data protection reasons so to speak - cannot find out what concerns him alone.

That's why we asked again today:

1.       Does your reference to the fact that the medical report considers both the pilot and the co-pilot in terms of content and inseparably with the view to the shared event perhaps mean, that the medical report is written linguistically in such a way that the clinical data of both pilots are continuously compared and interwoven with each other?

2.        Would it have been possible for the co-pilot to have (or be allowed to) learn about his own data by anonymizing the data of his colleague.

3.       If the latter would not have been possible: Was this deliberately arranged in such a way that neither pilot could (or was allowed to) learn anything about the clinical results?

4.       If option no.3 does not apply: Is it customary for the BFU, when commissioning medical reports in such cases, to ensure that patients are not allowed to know anything about their state of health?

5.       If it is not customary at BFU for patients not to have access to their personal medical findings: Why, then, was it not ensured in this specific case that those affected were allowed to know what the Air Force's Aeromedical Institute had determined about their physical condition?

6.       Can the BFU imagine that in such cases, those affected might have a legitimate interest in finding out exactly what the medical results are and how they came about methodically - irrespective of the information mentioned in the final report starting on page 30?

And we concluded, that we did not consider the Press Office's announcement that its complaints no.1 and no.2 were no basis for further cooperation or exchange with us, as a threat.

Perhaps the press office of the BFU meant it as such. But authorities are basically obliged to provide information. And if they think that as a monopoly they can decide for themselves who they want to give information to and  who they don't want to give it to, then information can quite easily be forced through an administrative court. But it will probably not (have to) come to that.

We will continue to report.

13th August 2018

BFU responds: again foggy

Within the context of our presentation of Lufthansa subsidiary Germanwings’ incident on 19th December 2010, we asked the BFU in April 2018: What was the result from the medical examination of the pilot who was unable to fly for six months after the fume event? Answer:

"A viewing of the ... expert opinion cannot be granted due to the „protection of sensitive security information act“ having to be guaranteed according to Article 14 Regulation (EU) 996/2010.“

In other words: In order to "protect sensitive security interests", the affected pilot must not know what medical findings the experts have established in his own case.

We have taken this as an opportunity to ask again:

a) Exacly which passage of the Regulation (EU) 996/2010 that you are citing  opposes the request of the pilot concerned, to inspect the expert opinion concerning himself?

b) What are the exact grounds for the necessity in "protection of sensitive safety information" that the pilot is not allowed to see? (…)“

We have received another reply:

  • Paragraphs 1 and 2 clarify this in principle: "The (...) documents may not be made available for purposes other than those of the safety investigation (...)". According to paragraph 1 lit.c, this also applies to medical documents
  • Paragraph 3 codifies the exception: "The benefit of the disclosure of the documents protected by paragraphs 1 and 2 must, in individual cases,

    • o   (1) be for a legally permissible purpose and outweigh
    • o   (2) the adverse domestic and foreign effects that disclosure may have for this or future safety investigations".

In summary: The BFU have examined all this and decided that the pilot concerned  apparently should not know about it, in order to "protect sensitive safety information" with "detrimental domestic and foreign effects".

We will again ask and have them explain the potentially "detrimental domestic and foreign effects".

We look forward to what the next answer will turn out to be.

November 5th, 2017

BFU’s resounding silence, yet again - unlike Switzerland

"The task of the BFU is to investigate accidents and serious disruptions during the operation of aircraft in Germany, and to determine their causes."

Says the German BFU about the German BFU as far as their tasks are concerned. However, the BFU has their own opinion and their own defined standards  in how they see a "serious disruption", as Austria's aviation magazine "Austrian Wings" found out.

The editors had taken the opportunity to find out about a fume event on a German Wings aircraft (September 30) to make inquiries at the BFU. Four of the flight attendants were "injured", two of them even had to be hospitalized. They also had to be supplied on board with (pure) oxygen and were then on sick leave for several weeks.

For the German BFU:  no "serious incident".

Austrian Wings wanted to know more from BFU, but received the usual standard answer:

"As you are probably aware, the legal basis of the work of the Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation (BFU) is the Regulation of the European Union, EU VO 996/2010 and the Aircraft Accident Investigation Act, FLUUG from 1998, as well as the ICAO Annex 13. According to the BFU it is not a serious incident or an aircraft accident, so there will be no investigation by the BFU of these reported events. "

The Austrian Wings’ editorial staff confronted the BFU regarding their contradictions, because according to the definition of the BFU,  a "serious incident" can be defined as such when crew members have to resort to oxygen or are off sick afterwards following incidences.

BFU reply this time: none.

Different apparently in Switzerland. The Swiss Accident Investigation Board (SUST) recently defined a similar case as a "serious incident" although nobody was "injured" or hospitalized.

The complete original Austrian Wing report can be read here : Von "Unfällen" und "schweren Störungen", die keine sein dürfen.