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GCAQE/AFAP

B717 FUMES SURVEY

Are you currently flying the Boeing 717 as a pilot in Australia?

Introduction

Australian pilots who fly the B717 aircraft, whether AFAP members or not, are invited to participate in an on-line research study about onboard exposure to engine oil fumes. An article in the AFAP AIR PILOT - NO. 2 | 2023 on page 23, provides more details about the study.

This new research study follows on from previously published studies carrried out over 20 years ago with AFAP pilots in 2002 and British Airways pilots through BALPA in 2004.

The Research

The goal of this research is to better understand the health of pilots who operate the B717 aircraft under normal conditions and to monitor their flight deck exposure to an oil-based chemical which can be measured in the blood. No participants will be identified by name, all of the information will be kept confidential, and the aircraft in question (B717) is being phased out of service. Still, the collective data is expected to support recommendations to improve the quality of the air supplied by bleed systems.

 

All participants will be asked to complete a confidential online survey about flights, fumes, and symptoms (if any). To do so, you would identify yourself with your generic, but unique, ID. Your results are confidential and will not be shared.

 

In addition, 50 of the pilots who complete the survey and are current AFAP members will be randomly-selected by AFAP and invited to contribute a blood sample in a time window 12 to 60 hours after their most recent B717 flight., Also, 25 of those pilots will be asked to invite their partner or another adult living in their home who has not flown in the last three months to provide a blood sample. The pilots’ partners will be the non-pilot comparison group. None of the pilot or partner blood donors will be identified by name. Blood donation facilities will be easily accessible at each B717 base.

** Should you experience a reportable contaminated air event on the 717 please contact the AFAP. You may have the option to provide an additional blood sample for testing at no charge. **

 

University of Washington scientists will test the blood samples for changes to a protein which are specific to a widely-used engine oil additive. Your sample will only be identified by a generic, but unique, ID. By default, your result is not shared with anyone, although you have the option for a doctor of your choice to receive your result via email.  The research to develop this test has been funded by numerous crewmember unions around the world (including AFAP and AIPA) and also by the Royal Australian Air Force.

 

To Participate

To participate in the survey component of this study, contact AFAP to receive your B717 survey unique alphanumeric ID and the login details for the confidential online survey (expected to take about 30 minutes);

 

If you are randomly selected to provide a blood sample as well: 

1.    Contact AFAP to receive a copy of the UW consent form. In place of your name and signature on the form, enter your AFAP-assigned alphanumeric identifier; and

 

2.    Coordinate with AFAP to get 20 milliliters of your blood drawn, per the UW research protocol.

 

If you want a doctor to get a copy of your blood test result, check "give permission" on the UW consent form and provide the doctor’s name and contact details. It does not need to be an aviation medical doctor or a doctor in Australia, just a doctor you have appointed to provide you with the results. AFAP has extra information on this process. 


More information

 

  • Participation is voluntary and strictly confidential.

  • AFAP will maintain a list of the names of each pilot participant and their alphanumeric ID in strict confidence.

  • The UW researchers will have access to the participants' alphanumeric IDs and blood test data.

  • AFAP-approved researchers representing crewmembers will review the survey data.

  • Matching the alphanumeric IDs for the survey data and blood samples allows the team to consider whether there is a correlation between survey results and blood test findings without identifying any pilot.  

  • Participation in this study is not paid but it is offered at no cost thanks to funding from the GCAQE and AFAP.

  • Documents and films about oil-contaminated air are available on the GCAQE website.

  • A Facebook group about contaminated air, overseen by the GCAQE is also available here.
     

Thank you for your interest in furthering the understanding of pilot exposure to engine oil fumes on aircraft.

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