The Dirty Secret of Aviation is out...

I have worked out that over the years, I have been on over 600 flights (including connections). That is one hell of a lot of airtime, with just about every plane imaginable: from A380 to Cessna 172, I have flown in all of them. But there is one plane which, over the past few years, I have become a little wary of.

No - it's not any of the old Tupolevs and Antonovs that dot the FSU airscape - I've been terrified of them since Day 1. No, it's actually something a little closer to home...

It's the BAe-146, a 4 engine, mid size regional jet that does a fair bit of duty in Europe. It's actually a pretty unique design: 4 engine planes of this size are pretty rare - and won't be getting any more common with fuel prices. Whilst I - touch wood - have never had a bad experience with it, it does seem to have one flaw which is becoming more widely known...

And that is that this plane has a reputation for being an aerotoxic trap.

What many people don't realize is that the air whilst in flight is topped up from a bleed air system run off the engines. And in some cases, it is suspected that the bleed air is contaminated with the oils and lubricants from the engine. The BAe-146 is supposedly one of the worst aircraft in this regard.

Aerotoxic syndrome is an ailment that has its origins in the air that people breathe whilst in the pressurized cabin of a turbofan or turboprop plane. It generally results in headaches, lethargy, difficulty in focusing and other more serious conditions. Many people pass it off as jetlag and often it disappears in a few days after the body heals. But in a few cases, the symptoms persist to a debilitating level. Pilots, cabin staff and passengers have been affected.

More details are available here

The BAe-146 is a plane you should avoid if you have a weak immune system. Whilst this doesn't mean that every flight is going to see your life ruined, the risk profile of this plane is just too high.

Take care.