Aviation Health Working Group Research Sub Group minutes: 9 January 2007
|Chair||Dr Ursula Wells||DoH||UW|
|Dr Ray Johnston||CAA/AHU||RJ|
|Dr Mark Popplestone||BA/BATA||MP|
|Dr Tim Bamber||BALPA||TB|
|Dr Nigel Dowdall||BA||ND|
|Guests||Dr Danny O'Hare||Imperial College||DOH|
|Capt Tom Mackle||DHL||TM|
|Capt Peter Reading||Flybe||PR|
Item 1: Introductions
1.0 UW opened the meeting and introductions were made. UW thanked the three guests for attending; they had given evidence to the COT and had been invited to the Research Sub Group as it was hoped they could contribute to the emerging research specification into cabin air quality.
Item 2: Minute of previous meeting (6 October 2006)
2.0 Agreed with minor amendments.
- DfT agreed to the funding of a study into cockpit light levels. AHU to write formally to the Department.
Item 3: Update on COT Review into Cabin Air
3.0 UW gave a précis of the COT work to date including the recent public meeting held on 5 December 2006. An epidemiological review is to be presented to the March COT meeting following which it was hoped final advice would be available in May.
3.1 Uncertainty remains about possible compounds released into the cabin air environment during a fume event.
3.2 The COT has therefore suggested a two stage approach to exposure monitoring using SPME (Solid Phase Microextraction) technology. SW highlighted the advantage of organising the first stage of the study in line with COT timescale so as to provide data that may assist with the COT’s conclusion and recommendations. The first stage would involve placing sampling devices on a number of (sector) flights and then analysing what they had found. It was hoped that, by including sufficient sectors, the study could capture an actual 'fume event'.
3.3 The COT recognises the possibility that initial studies could lead on to larger research at a later stage.
Item 4: Next Steps - Proposed Research
4.0 Following on from para 3.2 above, a letter from Prof Ian Rowland (Vice Chairman - COT) addressed to Sandra Webber, on Preliminary Advice on a Possible Approach to Exposure Monitoring was discussed by the group at length. A copy of the letter is attached.
4.1 In discussion, a number of suggestions were made:
- A robust study should include the use of more than one device to detect any substances. Equipment suggested include SPME's, the BRE grab sampler, Photoionisation detectors (PID's) and possibly the Van Netten device.
- A functionality test of these devices either in flight or on the ground should be conducted in a jet aircraft before the first phase of the study can begin. This would involve devices being placed in various locations within the cabin; running the aircraft engines (and air conditioning), and deliberately introducing a compound that the devices should pick up. These would then be sent away for laboratory analysis.
- DfT proposed to appoint a project manager to manage this functionality test and to conduct the first phase cabin exposure monitoring study. It was generally accepted that this was required to ensure that the data and results collected are authoritative and impartial. Several organisations were suggested.
- It was accepted that prospective project managers with interests in any product or device, or in the analysis procedure, could give rise to conflicts of interest and should not therefore be appointed.
- Test results should be sent to more than one accredited laboratory in order to compare and contrast results.
- On the question from UW on the number of flights required for the first-phase study; the figure of 300 (sector) flights was suggested as providing a minimum base for the research. TM suggested that data from 300 sector flights could quite easily be collected within a month.
- It was recognised that completing such a study in line with the CoT timetable would be challenging.
4.2 The next step is to write up a specification for a study on these lines. Also, RJ was to have a meeting with the US FAA to discuss the progress of the American study into cabin air.
Item 5: Proposed Fume Protocol
5.0 A letter from Dr Tony Goodwin (BALPA) to Prof Robert Maynard (Health Protection Agency) requesting guidance on draft protocol for the handling of pilots presenting symptoms of possible fume event exposure was discussed. It was known that some airlines had initiated their own guidelines. However it was unclear as yet what tests pilots should have because it was not yet known what substances were found during fume events. In light of this it was agreed to await the COT, on the basis of the current review, before further development of a protocol could take place.
5.1 BALPA still awaits a response from Prof Maynard.
Item 6: Gender Directive 2004 - Implementation of the Equal Treatment Directive 2004/113
6.0 AA presented details of the above Directive which is due to be implemented by EU States by 21 December 2007. Draft implementing regulations will be sent out for consultation by DCLG in March 2007, as part of a wider exercise gathering views on proposals for a single sex equality bill which aims to tidy up existing legislation.
6.1 The issue for airlines is how their existing health and safety policies on carrying pregnant passengers may need to be amended to comply with the Directive. Trade Associations and airlines’ legal departments should be involved at an early stage.
6.2 While direct discrimination is disallowed, it is likely that indirect discrimination on objective health and safety grounds might not fall foul of the Directive. It was important therefore for UK airlines to adopt a consistent and medically justifiable approach regarding the carriage of pregnant women.
6.3 RJ confirmed that informal discussion with senior obstetricians suggested a 32 week for multiple births and 36 week limit for single pregnancy seemed reasonable. However he would write to the President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) to obtain a formal view.
Item 7: AOB
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