Suit over BAe 146 cabin fumes allowed to proceed

A court in Perth, Australia, has allowed a former Ansett flight attendant to proceed with a suit against the airline for negligence and loss of income for chronic illnesses she says were caused by years of exposure to toxic fumes in on-board air. The former flight attendant, Judy Cullinane, reported getting ill during a BAe 146 trip from Perth to Darwin and Cairns in November 1997, and has been unable to work since. In 1996, Ansett formed a “BAe 146 Odor Inquiry Committee” to investigate complaints of reports of mid-air illness or fumes triggering attacks of nausea and discomfort in crew members. It found some evidence that fumes in the cabin could cause short-term irritation, but no evidence that they were toxic and could cause long-term damage. Another Ansett flight attendant, Alyssia Chew, has filed a similar suit. The court’s 26 February ruling only indicates that sufficient loss of income has occurred to justify a suit, and does not rule on the merits of the case. A similar suit, filed over cabin fumes on MD-80s operated by Alaska Airlines, is underway in the USA.

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