Flight attendants sue Boeing over allegations of ‘toxic’ cabin air

The lawsuit claims flight attendants suffered from adverse health effects from contaminated air because of an airplane design flaw.

SHARE Flight attendants sue Boeing over allegations of ‘toxic’ cabin air
Boeing’s corporate headquarters in Chicago.

A lawsuit was filed against Boeing Jan. 28, 2020, in the Circuit Court of Cook County.

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Three flight attendants are suing Chicago-based Boeing, claiming they were sickened by toxic air that seeped into the cabin due to a design flaw on some of the company’s airplanes. 

The suit also alleges that the company has known about the design flaw but has failed to fix it and allegedly has deceptively created the image that the air in its cabins is safe, according to the suit filed Tuesday at the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Some Boeing planes — other than the 787 Dreamliner — use a “bleed air system” in which outside air is pulled into and then “bled off” the engines before entering the cabin, the lawsuit states.

The air can become contaminated with a “toxic soup of chemicals” from heated engine oil, hydraulic fluid and other contaminants when a fluid leaks, or over time due to buildup of byproducts from heating the fluids, the lawsuit alleges. 

A contamination event is alleged to have occurred Feb. 5, 2018, as the flight attendants were working onboard a Boeing model 767-300 on a Delta flight from Frankfurt, Germany, to Detroit, according to the lawsuit.

“A number of the flight crew and passengers became ill,” the lawsuit alleges. After one of the flight attendants was dropped off in Iqaluit, Canada, the flight took off again and several flight attendants “continued to experience acute symptoms.” 

The lawsuit alleges that Boeing executives and engineers have known about the design flaw, and the “flight attendants were not properly warned of the health dangers of contaminated cabin air, and were ill equipped to respond to this incident.” 

The suit also claims that the company purposefully concealed or downplayed the rate of air contamination incidents, and kept those aboard its planes in the dark about the dangers. 

The lawsuit alleges that the flight attendants suffered and continue to suffer from health effects including nausea, confusion, pain, neuropathy, decreased motor skills, shortness of breath, headaches and memory loss as a result of breathing in the toxic air. 

The plaintiffs are seeking a jury trial and damages over $50,000, according to the lawsuit. 

A spokesperson for Boeing declined to comment on the lawsuit. 

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