View Full Version : Carbon Monixide Poisioning on GB Airways & Iberia

pelican larry
2nd Jul 2003, 06:41
Chilean press press has been reporting on the supposedly CO2 poisoning that many of the Mad - SCl june 29 Iberia flight suffered while enroute. Apparently at least two pax passed out. The general tone at the local press is that reaction byIberia flight crew was very poor. Follows an altavista translation of one of the reports ://www.lasegunda.com/Noticias/NoticiasDia/detalle_noticia_dia.asp?idnoticia=115525
SANTIAGO. - Other four passengers of an Iberia airplane that underwent a filtration of carbon monoxide in its cabin in flight from Madrid to Chile Sunday, were committed today in the Indisa clinic of Santiago, to detect poisonings, informed the administration into the establishment. The hospitalization is preventive, because no of these four people has visible signs of some ailment, said a spokeswoman, without discarding a poisoning degree. "the laboratory examinations will say", declared. Sunday, as soon as arrived at the Santiago airport, two travellers who underwent faints during the passage were put to the test exhaustive in the hospital, by disposition of the aeronautical authority. A third passenger who had physical annoyances without losing the knowledge put under the same revision by own account that day, and the test resultses in the clinic demonstrated that it had a proportion of 38% of carbon monoxide in the blood. The journalist of Mercury, Red Alberto, one of the in a faint one in the incident, that until today followed boarding school, had an inferior contamination slightly. The normal level of carbon monoxide in the sanguineous torrent is zero. "This is serious, very serious", said Red, that criticized the behavior of Iberia, whose offices in Santiago have refused all commentary. They sent a person who identified itself like doctor of the company, for "supporting" with the affected ones, "and nothing else", declared Red. "In all the subject, only the clear thing is the scientific confirmation (in Indisa) of which there is envenenamiento by monoxido of carbon", (...) and that this one "took place on board, beyond all doubt", it indicated Red. The faints of both fleeting more affected, while they walked by the corridor towards a bath of the airplane, happened almost four hours after the exit from Spain. "It could have worse consequences", it added the journalist, warning that sequels of a poisoning with that gas, that can be lethal, do not depend only on the absorbed amount, but also of the weight, age and physical contexture of the affected people. Perhaps other passengers of the flight are victims without realizing and without relating his possible malaises to the presence of the monoxide, he commented. The airplane of Iberia, a Airbus 340, transported 240 passengers. After inquiring into the mishap, the headquarters of the airport of Santiago authorized the return from the apparatus to Madrid, at where the same Sunday arrived without newness. Also, a note of the Main directorate of Civil Aeronautics of Chile (DGAC) mentioned the mishap as "a medical case between many and habitual that are taken care of in the terminal". Nevertheless, two civil employees of the ministry of Health were summoned Sunday to the airport, like part of a control mechanism that activates as opposed to suspicions of terrorist acts and that Chile hardly organized weeks after the attacks in New York and Washington, the 11 of September of 2001. The DGAC "initiated, with their specialists in aerial security and altogether with other organisms, an investigation to determine the possible causes" of the incident of the Airbus of Iberia, and this company "gave beginning to its own investigation, whose results will be made available of the aeronautical authority and the public opinion opportunely", added the official notice. Technical information of the manufacturer of airplanes Boeing mentioned by means of press of Santiago indicated that the air inside the airships of passengers renews between 20 and 30 times per hour in flight and that half of its volume comes from the outside by means of sophisticated equipment that includes filtration processes.:ugh: :ugh:

ou Trek dronkie
2nd Jul 2003, 22:53
This incident was reported today in the “Metro”(freebie in Rome). My translation is not, perhaps, the best available, but it gives a good idea of what is alleged to have happened.

Three passengers in a coma after a flight because of Monoxide.

Three passengers on an Iberia flight from Madrid to Santiago in Chile are in a coma after having breathed carbon monoxide on board the aircraft.

According to Carlos Alvarez, “Station Manager” in Santiago, the three lost consciousness when the aircraft was nine hours out from Santiago. Alvarez refused to give further information, saying that the Spanish company (would have to) clarify the circumstances of the (incident). The aircraft has already departed back to Madrid.

I have never ever heard of CO poisoning in a jet aircraft ? Very common, or rather possible, in a small aircraft, usually from the petrol heater.

A very interesting and disturbing incident, if it is true.

The red in Pelican’s report might refer to the colour of the afflicted, I remember that “cherry red” is one indication of CO poisoning.

3rd Jul 2003, 02:19
At this time of the year, anybody breathing the air in Santiago for at least 5 minutes will test positive for CO.

The smog there is something to experience.

pelican larry
3rd Jul 2003, 10:59
Santiago´s air definetely doesnt help, but pax started feeling ill two hours after departure, technically still in Europe
A couple of interesting points , the A340 departed on schedule for returning SCL- Mad . I assume they found the aircraft safe for flying. What would have happened if this had taken place on the Mad- Mia flight instead considering the current enviroment in the US ??

pelican larry
8th Jul 2003, 08:27
The plot thickens.....Iberias closed door policy not working. Spanish authorities begin investigation and first lawwsuit coming up.
(Altavista translation from www.lasegunda.cl which carried the news as main headline):
The first demand against Iberia, by the poisonings that were registered in one of their originating flights of Europe Sunday ancestor presents/displays this week in the courts. One is a compensatory civil demand by the damages undergone by the administrator of the National Park Towers of the Paine, Guillermo Santana, one of the nine passengers of the flight who until the moment have been intoxicated with carbon monoxide. There are other two that is under suspicion of to have been victims of the same one badly. The facts took place in the morning to 9,30 of the last Sunday, when the airship coming from Madrid settled in the slab of the airport Arturo Merino Ben'tez and the captain of the same one informed on board on the existence of two bruised passengers, those that were had in a faint. The injured ones were derived to the Indisa Clinic, place in which during afternoon a poisoning by carbon monoxide was diagnosed to them. Guillermo Santana, who in the airplane fell in a faint on the feet of the actor Julio Jung, is recovering in Port Native, after being registered Tuesday last after remaining two days committed and put under a strict treatment with oxygen to eliminate 7% of present monoxide in his organism. "guilty Negligence" The legal action that will be presented/displayed this week before a civil court of Santiago - according to needed the lawyer Guillermo Santana, Carlos Guzmán- sustains in "an agreement or aeronautical treaty signed by Chile in 1929, that was modified later in Is It in 1955, which respect to this type of situations allows us to exert a specific action". Guzmán assured that "it is clear that really, in our opinion, there is a guilty negligence of the company from the moment at which must grant absolute security to them to the passengers to be able to carry out its trip in normal conditions". The professional who represents Santana commented that the requirement will have the form of a "demand to distribution in the Court of Appeals, and the Court of Appeals is going to determine the specific court that it is going it to know within the 30 that exist in Santiago". "There is moral damage and emergent damage" Respect to the amount of the indemnification, the lawyer affirmed that "we are shuffling that and at the moment it would not dare to give him an exact amount to me. Here there is moral damage and an emergent or direct damage that also is being quantified ". Guzmán limited that it has not been contacted by other intoxicated passengers, nor has received requests related to interposing a joint legal action against Iberia. They follow the investigations In a nightmare it ended up becoming the trip that Santana by diverse Spanish national parks made. It explained that to the three hours to have taken off the airplane of Iberia from Madrid it felt mareos and annoyances that forced it to request aid. "I put myself of foot, I walked a little, and the latest that memory is to be in the ground with a stewardess who put water to me in the forehead". In addition to intoxicated, the administrator of the National Park Towers of the Paine finished with a fractured rib, product of the fall. The expenses of their hospitalization in the Indisa Clinic were paid completely by Iberia. "My lady has made me promise that I am not going to travel more", she assured from Port Native, not very convinced of being able to fulfill his oath. "These are accidents that occur and this touched me. It is third time that traveled to Europe ", emphasized. Civil aviation of Spain initiates search The head of international press of Iberia, Jaime Perez War, informed from Madrid that the Main directorate of Civil Aviation of Spain was added to the investigation that follows the airline to determine the causes of the mysterious poisonings, without there is still a determining answer. In Chile the case is followed by the Aerona'utica Main directorate Civil (DGAC). The Indisa Clinic informed on the other hand this morning that has not detected new confirmed cases and needed that there are other two suspects.

gerbil air
17th Jul 2003, 01:27
GB Airways Flight Operations & Cabin Services yesterday (15/07/03) issued a statement to all staff confirming that cabin crew operating the BA6902 LGW-GIB suffered carbon monoxide poisoning resulting in severe vomiting, nausea and dizziness. The Captain operating the flight made the decision to return to LGW where the crew were rushed to a local hospital where blood tests were carried out confirming the presence of carbon monoxide in the cabin crews blood. The a/c in question was an A320 and one possible explanation is a faulty APU leading to toxic gases entering the cabin. Not being technically minded, I do not know how plausible this suggestion is.

Could anyone shed any light on how carbon monoxide could enter the cabin during flight?

Has anyone else experienced air quality problems on the Airbus fleet?

Tom the Tenor
17th Jul 2003, 01:43
Something similar with IB in Santiago, Chile with an A340 in the last few weeks?

Jet A1
17th Jul 2003, 05:01
Always knew the crew food was gonna cause a stink one day !

go flyer down the back
17th Jul 2003, 17:50
yes i remember that we had the same problem on there a321s in G B airways

Norman Stanley Fletcher
17th Jul 2003, 18:14
Go Flyer Down the Back - I think from your 'callsign' that you are probably a passenger. There may be some misunderstanding here. You did not have Carbon Monoxide poisoning on an A321 with GB Airways. That was a separate and far less serious problem that involves a strange smell after take-off that is of an oily nature. This is not a GB issue per se but an A321 problem that Airbus are giving much attention to.

The carbon monoxide issue is clearly more serious, and it is true that CO poisoning did occur with 4 of the 5 cabin crew. Full engineering runs of the aircraft engines and APU took place before the aircraft flew again and no repeat of the problem occurred. One of the problems is that no passengers were affected, and the current theory is that there may have been a problem with the air conditioning system of the crew bus that brought the crew out to the aircraft. The bus has been put in the garage for further investigation. There is every willingness to consider that the aircraft may be to blame but that is not the likely explanation at this stage.

Suffice to say that along with all other major jet operators in the UK, GB are extremely safety conscious and will go to great lengths to indentify the root cause of this and deal with it.

22nd Jul 2003, 05:07
In reply to the above postings here are some FIRST HAND facts...

1) The aircraft returned to LGW after the Captain decided not to continue with the flight due to ALL five crew being ill. Four out of the five were physically sick. The flight was met by the Fire Brigade, then an ambulance (both precautions) and finally Port Health (West Sussex Council Doctors).

2) All crew and pax were kept on the aircraft until Port Health had carried out a few tests - of various natures. After 30 minutes it was their conclusion that no passengers were affected but all the crew (cabin & flightdeck) should attend hospital ASAP, as they *showed signs* of "Monoxide poisoning".

3) All 7 crew were taken to hospital (by crew bus ironically!!) and released after nearly four hours. All had blood tests. Three of the five cabin crew proved positive to having a larger than normal amount of "Carbon Monoxide" in their bloodstream. All readings were between 0.6 & 0.8 (milligrams I assume?). Not being medically minded I can't say how this compares to the normal amount one expects to find in one's body? Any offers????

4) In the subsequent GB memo of 15th July (ie; two days after the event), it was claimed (by GB flightdeck/cabin-crew management) that the amounts of "Carbon Monoxide" found in the tests were equivilent to "sitting in a traffic jam for a prolonged period". How often have you been sick after sitting in a prolonged traffic jam?!!!

5) To blame the crew bus is sheer escapism! No wonder they call him "Slippery"!! The crew bus was drawn into the equasion at two points. Firstly, Port Health recalled the vehicle back to the ramp to conduct tests at 11:30am. The crew left the Beehive four hours earlier. The same bus had taken at least two crews out prior to the incident and at least two more crews out afterwards!!
Now this begs the question:- Is Carbon Monoxide selective? Why did it only affect 5 out of 8 people on the bus and only 1 in 5 total crews??!!!! Is it only poisonous on a Sunday morning??
The crew bus was RULED OUT by Port Health on the day in question.
However, because of an unconnected incident (an air conditioning unit burning out) TWO DAYS later, GB summoned the company who is conducting tests on all the aircraft (BRE) to run tests on the crew bus in question.
The conditions of the test were nothing like that at the time of the incident. They sealed a monitoring unit in the stationary vehicle for 15 mins. Traces of Carbon Monoxide were, unsurprisingly, found. Unsurprising because the vehicle was stationary with the engine running AND burnt out air-conditioning blowing! Hardly like-for-like conditions!

Finally, Norman, the bus was not taken away to a garage for anything other than to have the broken air conditioning repaired (but then again isn't it about time they got ALL of the air conditioning repaired on those buses???!!!!)

Just my two-penneth... Let the comments begin....!!!!!

22nd Jul 2003, 21:39
Carbon monoxide poisoning has killed people in commercial aircraft in the past.

Surely, if the gas board can sell detectors for Ł35.00 a go, there must be suitable detectors available for commercial airliners.


Norman Stanley Fletcher
23rd Jul 2003, 05:23

I presume from your comments that you are also a pilot with GB. I have no management role of any kind (and am not likely to!) and therefore have no axe to grind. Like all these things, there is always some way or other that the situation could have been better handled, but fundamentally I believe there has been a genuine desire to sort the deal out.

First of all, your raw facts are absolutely correct which is good. You do seem to be suggesting, however, that there has been some sort of cover-up by the Flight Ops Direct and/or the Cabin Crew Manager. You also seem to state with certainty that the crew bus was not to blame. My own view is that while GB may not be perfect, there is a very strong safety culture. I have worked for a number of airlines and this is by far the best in terms of safety attitudes that I have come across. It would be entirely improper to suggest that in the interests of commercial expediency there had been an attempt to cover up the true facts in order to keep an aircract on-line.

The honest answer here is that no one yet knows. To any reasonable person observing it appears there is a genuine desire to find out the source of this problem and deal with it. If that were not the case then I would be the first to be banging on desks to get the matter resolved, but it is not.

To publish conspiracy theories on PPRUNE about our own company is not good as it could suggest to the uninformed that there is a cavalier attitude to safety at GB. Nothing could be further from the truth.

23rd Jul 2003, 05:55
> All readings were between 0.6 & 0.8 (milligrams I assume?).
> Not being medically minded I can't say how this compares to
> the normal amount one expects to find in one's body? Any
> offers????

A web search suggests that the normal units of measurement look like this...


The "half life" seems to be around 5 hours so if they were tested quickly the levels measured should be representative

This page also has interesting figures on how much you need in the air to produce those effects on the body..


It would seem that you don't need much of an increase to go from sick to dead...

Selected quote..

PPM Exposure Effect

200 PPM 2-3 hours Mild headache, fatigue, nausea and dizziness.

400 PPM 1-2 hours Serious headache - other symptoms intensify. Life threatening after 3 hours.

800 PPM 45 minutes Dizziness, nausea and convulsions.
Unconscious within 2 hours. Death within 2-3 hours.


12,800 PPM 1-3 minutes Death.

23rd Jul 2003, 05:59
Max Pete: I've noticed quite a few GA aircraft with the card type detectors which change colour in the presence of CO and other noxious gases.

However, a friend of mine who is a plumber once bluntly stated that their only use is so the fireman can make a quick diagnosis of the cause of your death.

I would imagine your call for detectors will go the same way as the exterior cameras or getting rid of the overwing exit seat row: it doesn't make money for the airlines, it won't happen....

Regards, BGPM.

23rd Jul 2003, 07:41
Norman: Apologies if my comments appeared to suggest there was a conspiracy theory (or cover up) by GB's management. Perhaps I rambled on a bit too much. I just wanted to present the facts for all to see.

Like you I have worked for other airlines and yes I totally agree GB does have a very consious attitude towards safety.

The reason for my stating that it couldn't have been the crew bus was based on elimination. ie; why did only 5 out of 8 people of that particular 10 minute journey suffer from inhalation of Carbon Monoxide. Add to that the fact that no passengers were affected, nor either of the flightdeck crew, suggests (to me at least) that the Carbon Monoxide was released at point of take off (or taxi at the very earliest).

Carbon Monoxide is lighter than air which means in an aircraft cabin it would linger around the ceiling at "head height" to those walking about the cabin. The only ones in such a position were the cabin-crew as the passengers were still "strapped in". The flightdeck air supply (correct me if I'm wrong) is fed from a source independent to that of the passenger cabin.

Finally my "gripe" is with the two persons who hurridly issued the memo to pacify the enquiring masses (aka employees!). IMHO I think the memo was too specific and certainly *suggested* that the aircraft was not to blame. Perhaps it should have just stated the facts as they happened and NOT tried to lay blame with either the crew bus or "air" bus..

I too believe that GB is actively looking into the matter and if I didn't I wouldn't be climbing into my seat tomorrow!

23rd Jul 2003, 09:22
Most GA aircraft have cabin heaters that are a jacket around the exhaust pipe, or even Janitrol heaters ( Both prime candidates for Carbon Monoxide :D :D ).
The GA Carbon Monoxide indicators are usually mounted on the dash in full view of the pilot. It should be in the pilots vision span and he should normally spot it change colour. Procedure is to shut off the heater and open a window.
They does seem to work believe me.

I think your plumber may be confusing this with something used in the house that changes colour while you are all asleep in bed and then it is mainly used for the autopsy !:p :p .

Regarding the aircraft incident it is obviously not that easy.
Presumably some of the cabin crew were at the front of the aircraft and some at the back so why were not ANY passengers affected?:confused: :confused:
The basic common denominator would on the face of it be the crew bus. But even testing this could be affected by such things as which way the wind was blowing at the time.
On modern jets it is not easy to see the source of the carbon monoxide, and also why localised effect with the normal high rates of flow.

23rd Jul 2003, 22:47
Just a quick interjection regarding WaspsNest's last post:

Carbon monoxide is actually not lighter than air. CO has a molecular mass of 28 amu (units not important), which is equal to that of nitrogen, which makes up about 79% of air. The densities of CO and air are therefore about equal, allowing CO to mix quite efficiently with an enclosed volume of air.

It seems odd, then, that no passengers were affected. The source would have to be highly localized (flight deck, galley?), and even then the CO would diffuse and be mixed into the larger volume gradually. If the crew were poisoned to the point of physical sickness, it seems likely that at least some of the nearby passengers would exhibit the flushed cheeks and headaches typical of mild CO poisoning. Certainly the closed flight deck door would segregate the effects of a localized source and one would expect either the flight deck or the cabin crew to have acute poisoning, but not both.

Could a ground air conditioning unit possibly be the source? If so then I presume the crew would have had much longer exposure than the passengers.

OK back to lurking, carry on.

24th Jul 2003, 00:10
The circumstances (selective affliction) strongly suggest that the affected crew members took the dose BEFORE boarding the aircraft.

Metabolic effects of CO are insidious, invidious, perfidious, etc. The effects of CO poisoning linger long and can accumulate from very low-level exposure.

Possibly the affected individuals were dosed some considerable while prior, but did not register the dramatic symptoms until cabin altitude began to rise and oxygen grew less available for them to metabolize with their already impaired hemoglobin.

24th Jul 2003, 01:02
Just a thought. Do the cabin crew have a separate briefing area/room at GB???

In trim
24th Jul 2003, 01:23
Knowing very well the distance from the Beehive to the airport, could the crew bus really be a suspect? I'm not by any means an expert on Carbon Monoxide, but the distances involved are relatively short, and even allowing for traffic delays and queues at Security I find this hard to believe. Also crew would have had several minutes of (relatively!) "clean air" while they cleared security.

A red herring me-thinks!

25th Jul 2003, 02:59

In answer to your question, Flight Deck Crew and Cabin Crew in GB share the same briefing area.



25th Jul 2003, 06:04
Thanks -that's one possible suggestion out. Be interesting to find out the outcome.
All the best

25th Jul 2003, 15:19
A few years ago I consumed a well known beverage that I believe to have been contaminated. I had similar symptoms to those discribed by the crew (pounding head, blind spots, vomiting etc). I suspected CO because we were living in a rented flat which had some very old gas heaters... yet my wife was totally unaffected. I was unaware of the real cause until I drank more from the same family size bottle several days later - and the symptoms came back again. A further week later I found out that that numerous other people had been effected at a school and that the product had been recalled as a precaution. (It took me that long to find out because I didn't speak the local language and missed all reports on the TV). In the end the company that made the product blamed mass hysteria! Sure wish I had kept that bottle.

Rumours everywhere
28th Jul 2003, 17:23
With reference to the A321 smoke/cabin air contamination... Slippery has already admitted that he feels that the APU's have an inherent oil leaking problem, which is 'burning off' into the air supply.

Someone I flew with a while ago told me that there is a US 757 operator (The B757 had the same problem with burning off oil - so I am led to believe) that now has several of its flightdeck with lung cancer, due to the continuous inhalation of a carcenogenic substance. Although I would not wish to put down the serious long term consequences of CO inhalation... our exposure to burnt off oil is an equally serious one, and whilst it 'apears' that this has ceased, it may still be a very major issue with long term effects.

Personally, I have never been so tight chested, light headed, physically tired, lacking energy, and just generally run down since I moved onto the Airbus. Working harder?!? Hmmnn... maybe. But I don't think so.

It does seem rather coincidental that we have had a few people off work, reasonably long term, with lung problems, and all on the Airbus.

I'm not too sure that Airbus really give two hoots either.

As far as GB is concerned, well... they were rather slow off the mark (probably due to a few of our incompetent GB engineers - not all of them I hasten to add - just those that make the decisions), but the pace has picked up a bit now... lets hope we do find out what the problem is, and get it sorted once and for all. Having it open ended is not good for anyone.

Rumours everywhere
28th Jul 2003, 17:35
Is there a possible link to this thread on a UK aircraft???



Plane Speaker
28th Jul 2003, 18:40
If dry ice is used to keep trolleys cool, could this introduce enough CO into the localised areas to introduce nausea to the crew only?

28th Jul 2003, 19:34
No - the process used to produce dry ice would effectively exclude CO.