Flight attendants sue Boeing over ‘toxic’ air inside plane

The lawsuit alleges contaminated air from the outside off the engines enters the cabin.

By Jessica Villagomez / Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — Boeing Co. is being sued by flight attendants who say they were made sick by toxic air that leaked onto a company-built airplane because of what they say is a design flaw.

The lawsuit by three flight attendants, filed Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court, alleges some Boeing planes use a “bleed air system,” which captures air from the outside off the engines. The air that enters the cabin can be contaminated with various chemicals, according to the lawsuit.

The contamination occurred on a Boeing 767-300 Delta flight from Frankfurt, Germany, to Detroit on Feb. 5, 2018, according to the lawsuit. A number of passengers became sick because of the contaminated air and the captain decided to divert the flight, the suit alleges.

“As a result of this event, Plaintiffs have suffered loss of wages and wage-earning capacity in the past and in the future,” the suit states.

The lawsuit also alleges that Boeing officials and engineers were aware of the design flaw and that flight attendants were not briefed on the health concerns surrounding the contaminated cabin air.

“For more than sixty years, Boeing has been put on notice, on more than a hundred occasions, that its bleed air system airplanes are unreasonably dangerous and can cause serious acute and permanent injuries to flight crew and passengers,” the suit alleges.

There have been other lawsuits filed regarding the issue in the past, including a 2015 suit by the same law firm that filed Tuesday’s suit, and the issue has been researched by the Association of Flight Attendants union. The 2015 lawsuit was settled last month, according to court records.

The flight attendants are seeking a jury trial and damages of over $50,000, according to the suit. The flight attendants continue to suffer from myriad health problems due to breathing the toxic air, including headaches, nausea and confusion, the suit says.

Boeing did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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