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Old 26th Feb 2015, 12:43
  #105 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Tring, UK
Posts: 1,389
Much of what we are seeing happening stems from the quite understandable desire to find out, if you became unwell, what made you unwell. It is much more difficult to do this for an individual, than it is to make statistical pronouncements about a population. Unless there is a bullet hole or something really obvious, you can only really guess or assign probabilities from the millions of possible causes, the most likely of which may be <0.1% of the total.

At the moment, there doesn’t appear to be any data which shows a significant difference between aircrew and the general population in terms of “aerotoxic symptoms”. So far, tests on board aircraft have shown little evidence of contamination above what you’d find in the general environment. None of this means that there isn’t a problem, just that with the current data we can’t draw any conclusions. Hopefully, in the near future, the datasets will be expanded enabling more refined methods to be used.

Supposing tomorrow the engine/airframe manufacturers and the airlines unanimously decided that for PR purposes, they’d fit filters, etc. Wouldn’t that be a great result? In some ways, yes, as you could cross 'TOCP poisoning from the bleed air’ off the list of worries when you go flying. Would it cure “aerotoxity”? Who knows? We don’t know what causes it (or if it exists) in the first place. The cure could be a complete placebo. In the meantime all the research and publicity will go somewhere else because the problem has been fixed.

It’s bad science when you start taking action without some kind of significant proof. It’s bad in engineering terms too. Even from a CRM point of view, it’s not a good idea. Look at the recent TransAsia crash, there was some “belief” in the cockpit that the left engine wasn’t working, even though the FDR shows the right one had actually failed - it seems that “belief” was stronger than instrument indications that day and they ended up shutting down the good engine too. Most of us who fly draw back in horror from such a scenario, so why do some feel the need to accept inadequate data and faulty logic elsewhere? Maybe because it’s an emotive subject and keeping objectivity is very difficult...?
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