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British Airways Pilot Overcome By Fumes Which Smelled Of 'Sweaty Socks'

Rebecca Shepherd

| Last updated 

British Airways Pilot Overcome By Fumes Which Smelled Of 'Sweaty Socks'

Featured Image Credit: PA

A British Airways plane was forced to make an emergency landing at Heathrow Airport after the pilot and co-pilot were overcome by fumes that smelt like 'sweaty socks'.

The Airbus A320 was travelling from Zurich following an 'uneventful' departure when they started to notice the strong smell.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

It was decided that the crew would wait 30 seconds to see whether the stench dissipated. After half a minute it had gone and they agreed to continue the flight.

As the plane was descending into Heathrow, both the pilot and co-pilot detected a sudden, very strong smell that was compared to 'manure' or 'like a field that had just been muck spread'.

The pilot took control of the plane and told the co-pilot to put on his oxygen mask during the flight, which took place on 23 September 2019.

Once the aircraft had landed, the co-pilot started to feel sick and ended up vomiting out of the flight deck window. It soon became obvious that he needed urgent medical attention after he went to the toilet and continued to vomit.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

The co-pilot and commander were assessed by the paramedics and both taken to hospital. The passengers subsequently disembarked and were transported to the terminal. Thankfully, none of the passengers or cabin crew reported any ill effects. The co-pilot and commander were released from hospital later the same day.

The investigation report reads: "The flight crew detected a slight odour on the flight deck. The commander initially thought the smell was coming from the galley ovens. The co-pilot described it as a 'sweaty socks' smell; he reported that he had smelt similar smells on this type of aircraft before, but this was stronger than he had previously experienced."

It went on: "As the aircraft passed through 4,000 ft both flight crew detected a sudden, very strong smell.

"[The commander] described the smell instantly 'hitting him' in the back of the throat. There was no smoke and no obvious source of the smell. The co-pilot described it as a 'strong sweaty socks' smell. He reported feeling itchy skin around his eyes and a scratchy throat.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

"The commander took control and instructed the co-pilot to put on his oxygen mask. Once the co-pilot was on oxygen and communication was re-established the co-pilot took control whilst the commander donned his oxygen mask."

The report goes on to explain that upon landing 'the co-pilot removed his oxygen mask briefly to confirm if the fumes were still present'.

"At this stage the co-pilot started to feel nauseous. The Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) was started for electrical power and the engines were shutdown. The co-pilot then vomited out of the flight deck window."

The report concluded: "Investigations carried out by the AAIB [Air Accidents Investigation Branch] and the operator did not identify the source of the fumes."

A spokesperson from BA told LADbible: "We would never operate an aircraft if we believed it posed any health or safety risk to our customers or crew.

"Research commissioned by the European Aviation Safety Agency, in 2017 concluded that the air quality on board aircraft was similar or better than that observed in normal indoor environments.

"We always encourage our colleagues to tell us about any concerns they have, with reports passed onto the Civil Aviation Agency. Safety is our first priority and every report is thoroughly investigated, with typically 151 engineering checks before an aircraft is cleared to continue flying.

"Fume or odour events have been found to be caused by a wide range of issues, including burnt food in the oven, aerosols and e-cigarettes, strongly-smelling food in cabin bags, and de-icing fluid."

Topics: UK News, british airways, News, travel, UK

Rebecca Shepherd
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