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US News EXCLUSIVE: BA captain sends Mayday alert and wears oxygen mask to land plane at Heathrow as co-pilot is 'overcome by fumes' at controls

14:35  16 january  2020
14:35  16 january  2020 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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A BA captain sent a Mayday alert and wore an oxygen mask as he was forced to make an emergency landing at Heathrow after his co - pilot was overcome by suspected fumes while at the controls , MailOnline can reveal. The evening flight from Athens was four nautical miles from London

This week’s terrifying incident on board a Southwest flight - in which debris from an blown engine smashed a window, causing cabin depressurisation and the death of an American woman, Jennifer Riordan - highlighted a key component of air safety: oxygen masks .

BA captain sent a mayday alert and makes emergency landing at Heathrow. © Getty BA captain sent a mayday alert and makes emergency landing at Heathrow.

A BA captain sent a Mayday alert and wore an oxygen mask as he was forced to make an emergency landing at Heathrow after his co-pilot was overcome by suspected fumes while at the controls, MailOnline can reveal. 

The evening flight from Athens was four nautical miles from London when the first officer, who was flying the plane, fell ill.

As he could no longer function properly, the captain was forced to take over and raise the alarm in the final stages of the flight.

The incident is the latest in so-called 'fume events' involving flight crew on a BA passenger jet and the Air Accident Investigation Board (AAIB) is investigating. 

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Mr Luckett told the Express that half way into the 40 minute flight, the pilots had issued a mayday and later he saw them wearing oxygen masks . Nerys Conway, another passenger on the flight, tweeted that they had been met on landing with fire engines at Heathrow .

It comes after a pilot on a London-bound BA flight was forced to land in Vancouver, Canada, after the pilot complained of 'toxic fumes ' on the plane . In an audio recording, obtained by ABC News, a pilot , having been asked what the problem was by air traffic control , responded: 'Toxic fumes , toxic

a close up of a sign: A BA captain sent a Mayday alert and wore an oxygen mask as he was forced to make an emergency landing at Heathrow after his co-pilot was overcome by suspected fumes while at the controls, MailOnline can reveal © Provided by Daily Mail A BA captain sent a Mayday alert and wore an oxygen mask as he was forced to make an emergency landing at Heathrow after his co-pilot was overcome by suspected fumes while at the controls, MailOnline can reveal

Almost 300 'fume events' were reported on BA flights last year and almost 100 cases of alleged 'aerotoxicity' are being brought against the airline.

In this latest incident, the first officer had been declared fit to fly before embarking the A320 jet in the Greek capital for the four hour flight on January 2.

While bringing the plane into its final approach to Heathrow, he complained about feeling unwell.

A spokesman for the airline denied claims made by BA insiders that the first officer had actually fainted and was slumped over the control column as the plane was about to land. 

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a large passenger jet flying through a blue sky: The evening flight from Athens was four nautical miles from London Heathrow when the first officer, who was flying the plane, fell ill. As he could no longer function properly, the captain was forced to take over and raise the alarm in the final stages of the flight © Provided by Daily Mail The evening flight from Athens was four nautical miles from London Heathrow when the first officer, who was flying the plane, fell ill. As he could no longer function properly, the captain was forced to take over and raise the alarm in the final stages of the flight The captain immediately took charge, radioed the control tower and both he and the first officer put on breathing masks.

Within two minutes - at 8.25pm - the A320 aircraft had landed and was then grounded for 48 hours while BA investigated.

The first officer was met by medical staff, assessed and then allowed to go home while cabin crew and passengers remained unaware of the drama taking place in the cockpit.

BA admitted that the officer had fallen ill, the alarm was raised and oxygen masks were used but would not say what caused him to feel unwell.

However they said 'fume events' could be caused by a variety of reasons such as burnt food and e-cigarettes - even though these are banned on board.

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“If the airplane loses pressure, oxygen masks will drop automatically,” the safety video on American Airlines flights says. The photos show panicked passengers with the yellow oxygen masks around their mouths but not their noses. At altitudes above 14,000 feet, pilots must use oxygen at all times.

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an aerial view of a city: MailOnline understands the captain put a breathing mask on himself and the first officer as they came into land on January 2. Within two minutes the A320 aircraft was on the ground and then grounded for 48 hours while BA investigated © Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline understands the captain put a breathing mask on himself and the first officer as they came into land on January 2. Within two minutes the A320 aircraft was on the ground and then grounded for 48 hours while BA investigated

BA said it was standard practice for pilots to put on oxygen masks if they fear their breathing has been compromised by potentially dangerous odours that affect their ability to fly the plane.

A BA spokesman said: 'The Captain landed the aircraft safely, and customers disembarked as normal. 

'As the First Officer was feeling unwell, he was seen by an airport paramedic as a precaution, before going home.'

a close up of clouds in the sky: Almost 300 'fume events' were reported on BA flights last year and almost 100 cases of alleged 'aerotoxicity' are currently being brought against the airline. Aviation experts said the most probable cause of a fume event is a broken seal or maintenance issue oil leak © Provided by Daily Mail Almost 300 'fume events' were reported on BA flights last year and almost 100 cases of alleged 'aerotoxicity' are currently being brought against the airline. Aviation experts said the most probable cause of a fume event is a broken seal or maintenance issue oil leak An AAIB spokesman said: 'An incident was reported to the AAIB and we are investigating. When our investigation has concluded we will publish a report.' 

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Mid-flight horror as plane is forced to land when pilot becomes 'incapacitated' when cockpit filled with fumes . Co - pilot started to feel nauseous before unscheduled stop was made. The news comes just two weeks after the first picture was released of one of two top BA pilots who died within days of

The airline is being sued by almost 100 staff who claim their health has been affected by the fumes from the engines that are said to smell like old socks. 

Aviation experts say the most probable cause of a fume event is a broken seal or maintenance issue oil leak.

Oil for aircraft engines contains an additive called tricresyl phosphate, or TCP, that helps reduce wear on the engines. It is a toxin that can smell like old socks and causes nausea a vomiting to anyone who inhales it.

a man sitting on the seat of a car: BA is currently fighting a class action against former staff who claim their health has been affected by continued exposure to toxic fumes or aerotoxicity. The case is being spearheaded by the family of BA pilot Richard Westgate, 43, who took his own life in 2012 © Provided by Daily Mail BA is currently fighting a class action against former staff who claim their health has been affected by continued exposure to toxic fumes or aerotoxicity. The case is being spearheaded by the family of BA pilot Richard Westgate, 43, who took his own life in 2012

In its legal action Unite - which represents cabin crew - claims pilots and crew are exposed to frequent 'fume events' that can lead to chronic ill-health and life-threatening conditions.

Howard Beckett, from Unite, said: 'The airline industry cannot continue to hide from the issue of toxic cabin air whilst placing the health and safety of aircrew at risk.'

The case is being spearheaded by the family of BA pilot Richard Westgate, 43, who took his own life in 2012 from an overdose of sleeping pills.

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BA flight makes emergency landing with ' pilots in oxygen masks amid cockpit burning smell'. The BA 327 flight from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris landed shortly after 10.30pm at Heathrow He said: "The pilots came on after the plane landed and said they could smell burning in the cockpit."

Cabin crew hailed for keeping calm as plane made emergency landing . A British Airways flight made an emergency landing at London Heathrow with the pilots in oxygen masks last night after the captain smelt burning in A Mayday call was put out by the pilot around 20 minutes into the journey.

a man standing on top of a snow covered slope: His family say his ill health caused by toxic fumes led him to self medicate and contribute to his death. BA have denied any liability in Mr Westgate's death and the High Court case is ongoing © Provided by Daily Mail His family say his ill health caused by toxic fumes led him to self medicate and contribute to his death. BA have denied any liability in Mr Westgate's death and the High Court case is ongoing His family say his ill health caused by toxic fumes led him to self medicate and contribute to his death.

In April 2017, a coroner overseeing an inquest into his death ruled his overdose was accidental, but heard evidence that a post-mortem revealed damage to his heart and nervous system, which his family say were signs of his exposure to aerotoxicity.

a person standing in front of a group of people posing for the camera: In April 2017, a coroner overseeing an inquest into Mr Westgate's (left) death ruled his overdose was accidental, but heard evidence that a post-mortem revealed damage to his heart and nervous system, which his family say were signs of his exposure to aerotoxicity © Provided by Daily Mail In April 2017, a coroner overseeing an inquest into Mr Westgate's (left) death ruled his overdose was accidental, but heard evidence that a post-mortem revealed damage to his heart and nervous system, which his family say were signs of his exposure to aerotoxicity BA have denied any liability in Mr Westgate's death and the High Court case is ongoing.

The BA spokesman said: 'We would never operate an aircraft if we believed it posed any health or safety risk to our customers or crew. 

a large passenger jet flying through the air on a cloudy day: In its legal action Unite - which represents cabin crew - claims pilots and crew are exposed to frequent 'fume events' that can lead to chronic ill-health and life-threatening conditions © Provided by Daily Mail In its legal action Unite - which represents cabin crew - claims pilots and crew are exposed to frequent 'fume events' that can lead to chronic ill-health and life-threatening conditions

'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.

a airplane that is flying in the sky at sunset: BA said: 'We would never operate an aircraft if we believed it posed any health or safety risk to our customers or crew. Research by the European Aviation Safety Agency concluded that the air quality on board aircraft was similar or better than that observed in normal indoor environments' © Provided by Daily Mail BA said: 'We would never operate an aircraft if we believed it posed any health or safety risk to our customers or crew. Research by the European Aviation Safety Agency concluded that the air quality on board aircraft was similar or better than that observed in normal indoor environments' 'Safety is our first priority and every report is thoroughly investigated, with typically 151 engineering checks before an aircraft is cleared to continue flying.

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At the controls were Captain Tim Lancaster, 42, and his co - pilot , 39-year-old Alastair Atchison, both experienced flyers, and their Less than 15 minutes into the flight, with the plane at 17,300 feet over Oxfordshire, there was a loud bang in the cockpit, and the windscreen on the captain ’s side blew out

'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.'

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