Heathrow-bound pilots 'made dizzy by smell as they landed'

The captain and co-pilot of a plane coming in to land at Heathrow donned oxygen masks after a strong smell made them feel dizzy, a report has said.

Despite the co-pilot experiencing eye irritation and being nauseous, the pair landed the 139-passenger Airbus safely.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report said there was also an odour in the passenger cabin.

The report said the source of the smell, which affected the aircraft on 21 October, could not be found.

The AAIB report described the incident, on the Lufthansa Airbus A321 from Frankfurt to London Heathrow, as serious.

Priority-landing clearance

When the co-pilot complained of the smell and the irritation to his eye and throat, the captain called the purser.

She confirmed there was also an odour in the cabin and that she was experiencing the same symptoms as the co-pilot.

When the co-pilot complained of being dizzy, the crew put on their oxygen masks and requested priority-landing clearance.

After the landing, with the engines shut down, "the situation in the cabin improved, although a few passengers reported light throat irritation", the report said.

Six crew members were sent to hospital for medical checks and the aircraft was examined but "no explanation for the odour or symptoms experienced by the crew could be found", the report said.

The AAIB concluded: "This event thus joins a growing number of cases in which there has been a similar lack of conclusive evidence as to the cause(s) of aircraft cabin air quality issues."

The AAIB said UK Civil Aviation Authority analysis showed "fume events" occur on approximately 0.05% of commercial passenger and cargo flights.

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