Global Cabin Air Quality Executive (GCAQE) has announced some major updates on aero-toxicity developments:
- TCP blood test is now laboratory proven and awaiting final international certification.
- The new 2023 GCAQE Medical Protocol has been published as is available online at https://www.gcaqe.org/health.
- The French legal system now officially recognises “aerotoxic syndrome” as a medical condition.
- French company NYCO has finalised patents for their new engine oil that has no organophosphate additives and is to be used in military aircraft by the end of 2023.
- An experimental version of a new filtration system developed by BASF and designed to remove ultrafine particles from the bleed aircon system is trialled by Airbus on their A320 fleet.
TCP blood test developments
A research team at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA, is in the final stages of developing a blood test intended to enable airline crew who breathe oil fumes onboard aircraft to confirm their exposure. The test is designed to identify changes to a blood protein which are specific to the TCP blends added in aviation engine oils.
The Furlong blood test to detect PCPs (organophosphate derivatives, which include the TCP (tricresyl phosphate), i.e. an engine oil additive) in a pilot’s blood is now laboratory proven. Final international certification and blood spot detection is currently being finalised by Dr Furlong’s team.
As well as helping fund the research, the AFAP is also facilitating this project by conducting a survey and collection of blood samples from effected Australian jet fleet crewmembers who will participate anonymously, helping to finalise the international certification of this important blood test in 2024.
The new GCAQE Medical Protocol
The newly published Medical Protocol is available online at: https://www.gcaqe.org/health
Pilots should point out this protocol to their medical practitioners if they have a fume event.
Additionally, the CGAQE’s website provides a comprehensive list of short- and long-term effects of exposure to cabin fumes, which pilots can familiarise themselves with.
Recognition of Aerotoxic Syndrome as a medical condition in France
The French legal system has recently accepted and now officially recognises “aerotoxic syndrome” as a medical condition. Unions working together with GCAQE member AVSA have helped achieve significant legal victories for crews, relating to exposure to contaminated air and recognition of associated health effects of ‘Aerotoxic Syndrome’ and workplace injuries from exposure to oil fumes. There has also been some ruling in favour of air crew in some of their cases against Airbus.
New less hazardous NYCO engine oil
French company NYCO has finalised patents for their engine oil that has no organophosphate additives. New less hazardous NYCO engine oil will have SAE and Mil Specifications soon to be used in all military aircraft (expected by the end of 2023). This opens the path for the oil to be certificated on all commercial jet engines, however it is uncertain at present who will pay for the certification. NYCO is yet to publish their research findings to support their view that the oil is less hazardous.
IFALPA’s position paper and briefing on cabin fumes
IFALPA has recently published updated versions of their cabin air position and briefing leaflet on cabin air fumes. These are an excellent step forward and we encourage all pilots to all use these publications. [PDF files – IFALPA’s publications 23pos19 and 23hupbl01]