Frontier Flight 2074 Ends with Carbon Monoxide Exposure

Frontier Airlines carbon monoxide event sickens at least six people on December 2 and is emblematic of ongoing airline issues with gas leaks. An airplane is an awful place to be if the atmosphere within is filled with carbon monoxide. This is appears to be second Frontier Airlines “fume” event this fall.

By Rebecca Martin

At 7:14 Thursday evening, emergency dispatchers in El Paso received notification of a possible Frontier Airlines carbon monoxide incident aboard Frontier flight 2074, en route from Las Vegas to San Antonio. Of the 212 passengers onboard, 6 were reporting symptoms of nausea due to what Frontier Airlines is describing as a  “passenger medical emergency and a fume event”.

The San Antonio flight had been originally delayed 30 minutes in order for a leaky fuel line to be repaired, according to ABC7 News in El Paso. Midway through the flight passengers noted strong fumes in the cabin which led to the decision for an emergency landing in El Paso.

Upon landing at El Paso International Airport, flight 2074 was met by 16 units from the El Paso Fire Department, including a hazmat unit. While 6 passengers reported nausea and feeling ill, all passengers were advised by the flight crew upon arrival to step forward if symptoms appeared present.

This appears to be the second such incident of Frontier Airlines fume event as there was also an incident in October on a flight from Norfolk to Orlando.

The six ill passengers were removed from the flight on stretchers and evaluated at the scene. They all declined transport to the hospital for further assessment.

We would remind everyone that even though acute symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning can lessen quickly one oxygen is administered, that the effects of the poisoning can continue to attack the internal organs and the brain for days and weeks after the poisoning. If anyone part of the Frontier Airlines carbon monoxide exposure (regardless of whether they were the initial six who got treatment) suffers any of the symptoms of carbon monoxide, they should promptly go to an Emergency Room for treatment.

Click here for the symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

Click here for more on the delayed onset of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Hazardous materials crews identified a source of carbon monoxide in the front of the cabin but reported that it had concentrated in the rear of the cabin.

 “A spokesperson for the El Paso Fire Department told KFOX14 that there was a “minor carbon monoxide leak in the front of the cabin” and that it was contained in the back of the aircraft.”

A spokeswomen for Frontier Airlines stated that delayed passengers were given food and a $200 travel voucher and would be re-accommodated on other flights.

In 1993, the CDC had performed limited studies of in-cabin air quality following a complaint by Alaska Airlines stewardesses who complained of illness following flights aboard McDonnell Douglas MD-80 airplanes in particular. Environmental monitoring did not reveal any sort of toxic exposure or lack of oxygen. In essence, their study ruled out carbon monoxide exposure as the cause of numerous complaints by flight crews.

However, in 2011, a flight attendant reached a legal settlement with Boeing after contending that faulty aircraft design allowed toxic fumes to reach the cabin. She alleged that this exposure led to tremors, memory loss and severe headaches.

Complaints amongst flight crews are far from rare. Those impacted and their advocates warn that health problems have existed on jet planes since their inception in the 1950s.

 “On at least one U.S.-registered commercial jetliner a day — out of approximately 28,000 flights — pilots, flight attendants and passengers are exposed to toxic smoke or fumes entering the plane’s air conditioning system, say industry officials. And the documented incidents of contaminated air, which can contain tricresyl phosphates (TCPs), carbon monoxide and other toxic components, may not cover all the exposures.”

Airline officials maintain that cabin air is entirely safe. Cabin air is compressed air pumped or “bled” from the plane’s engine. Most studies back up their contention that such exposure poses no health risk. Others contend that cabin air contamination is part of a cover up of workplace health issues.

In 2011, Delta flight 1817, traveling from Atlanta to Denver, diverted to Tulsa when several passengers complained of being ill. Nausea of varying degrees was the main complaint. Upon landing, 12 passengers were found to have elevated levels of carbon monoxide in their blood. One person was sent to the hospital as a result.

“In a pilot safety manual, the FAA writes, “Carbon monoxide poisoning is a safety issue that pilots tend to ignore, even though it is the most common industrial poisoning accident in the United States.”


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