An Oregon court has concluded that there is a causal link between a long-serving jetBlue pilot and Captain suffering a form of brain dysfunction, and neural cognitive disorder and him being exposed to toxic chemical fumes onboard an Airbus A320 aircraft.
Captain Andrew Myers, 54, had worked for JetBlue for 15-years and was earning in excess of $248,000 a year before the January 2017 incident which he believes left him with chronic total-body tremors and breathing problems.
Captain Myers was scheduled to fly a plane that a day before had apparently suffered a fume event after flight attendants and customers complained of smelling a strong foul odour during the descent for landing.
Along with his co-pilot, Captain Myers attempted to figure out what had caused the smell by performing three engine run tests before departure.
In the first engine run, Captain Myers could smell the foul odour in the cabin but the First Officer who was still in the flight deck couldn’t. But during the second engine run, both of them smelled “a very apparent, choking, burning odour like dirty socks or an oily smell”.
They both immediately developed headaches and were coughing – luckily, with the plane still at the gate and no passengers yet onboard, they were able to quickly get off the aircraft to grab some fresh air.
Despite collapsing on the jetbridge, Captain Myers then decided to get back on board the plane to complete the third engine run test. Again, the odour returned and on this occasion, the right side of his body shook with tremors.
Throughout the day, his symptoms worsened. After telling jetBlue he wouldn’t be fit to operate the flight, the airline flew him to San Francisco where he became so confused he forgot what hotel he was staying in. The following day he felt a lot better and took on a flight only for a severe headache to develop – it would be the last flight Captain Myers operated.
An engineering report dated over a month later found that the auxiliary power unit was cracked and leaking oil – a pathway for toxic fumes from hot oil to enter the aircraft ventilation system.