A bipartisan group of senators and representatives has introduced the Cabin Air Safety Act in both houses to tighten regulations surrounding so-called fume incidents in which cabin bleed air is contaminated by toxic chemicals from the airplane itself or from external sources. “Pilots, flight attendants and passengers should never have to worry about toxic fumes filling an aircraft cabin mid-flight,” said Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif. “Unfortunately, this happens hundreds of times a year and in some cases requires passengers to seek medical attention.” The Senate bill was sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., and the House bill was put forth by Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif.
The bill acknowledges that most flights proceed with clean cabin air but occasionally engine or hydraulic oil can leak into the system, as can de-icing fluid. The resulting fumes can cause immediate symptoms and there is concern over longer term effects. While no airline wants toxic air in the cabin, the bill aims to tighten up reporting requirements and mandate installation of monitoring equipment and detectors to alert crew to contamination. It would also make investigations into reports of fume events mandatory.