British Airways Sickened by Fumes in Cockpit Diverts to Las Vegas

Sunday, February 17, 2013
By George Hatcher

On Feb 14, 2013, an hour into the British Airways (Boeing 747-400) Los Angeles to London flight, the crew smelled smoke in the cockpit. Fumes made the flight crew sick. The captain put on the oxygen mask as they diverted to Las Vegas, where they made a safe landing at 10:20 p.m. Thursday.

British Airways provided hotel accommodations for the passengers overnight, and alternative flights the next day.

British Airways says the fumes were not smoke-related. Early indications seem to be a ‘fault with the number three engine.’ Passengers were frustrated by perceived chaos and lack of information once they were on the ground in Las Vegas. Emergency medical services checked over the flight crew on landing; they were hospitalized.

Last week, a Heathrow-Philadelphia BA Boeing 777 with 158 passengers made an emergency landing in Canada after toxic oil fumes were reported on the flight deck. That plane made the unscheduled stop at Goose Bay, in Newfoundland, in temperatures of -30C.

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In George’s Point of View

It happens more frequently than one would expect that a plane has problems with fumes.

Fumes in a closed air system, fumes that sicken the flight crew–isn’t this something that needs to be investigated? It seems like healthy air–or at least breathable air–is an essential part of flying. It’s not like you’re going to have a happy landing if you’ve suffocated on the way, or if your pilot passed out on the flight. I don’t care if it is cheap aftershave, or de-icer burnoff–whatever it is, let’s hope they get to the root of this too-frequent problem once and for all.

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