Philip Whiteley's Blog

February 26, 2014

Radio silence in aerospace

Filed under: Uncategorized — felipewh @ 3:56 pm

Since publishing my ‘whistle-blowing’ dossier on apparent serious breaches of medical ethics and health and safety legislation in airlines, I expected a barrage of commentary and criticism from people in the aviation sector. Instead, I have experienced an eerie silence. A few former pilots and one current flight attendant have gotten in touch to express their thanks and share their experiences, but from the aviation industry and governmental transport institutes a policy of radio silence is intact.

I may not be an expert on aviation, but I am very experienced in spin. I know when an organization is hiding something, and refusal to answer direct, reasonable questions is an obvious sign. This extends, in the case of the aerotoxic scandal, to a refusal to acknowledge the existence of evidence that does not support their position, or in other cases to explain why they did not accept it. So a typical exchange of information between me and an aviation body goes something like this:

Them: ‘There is no evidence aerotoxic syndrome exists’.

Me: ‘But you were presented with evidence of toxic injury from fume events by eminent scientists and doctors on this date.’

Them: ‘Ah, but we did not accept that this evidence was credible.’

Me: ‘Interesting. What was the scientific basis for rejecting that evidence?’

Them: ‘We refuse to answer that question.’

Even if you want to support the industry on this issue, it’s not terribly convincing.

In response to my dossier, however, I have received emails sent directly to me from two very senior figures in the British establishment, who are in a position to make very big waves roll, and who informed me that they are investigating the issues that I raised. I am neither optimistic nor pessimistic about what will happen next, but some significant developments are at least possible in the next few weeks.

All I can do is stay on the case.



  1. interesting indeed – as you say: silence and refusal to respond speaks volumes.

    Comment by Bearnaírdine Beaumont — February 26, 2014 @ 4:09 pm | Reply

  2. Well done Philip…

    Comment by David Zaahrik — February 26, 2014 @ 5:13 pm | Reply

    • oops spelled my own name wrong … must be toxic injury!

      Comment by David Zaharik — February 26, 2014 @ 5:14 pm | Reply

  3. Thanks all. I’ll keep this blog updated as I chronicle what the UK establishment does – and does not do. Please spread the word.

    Comment by felipewh — February 26, 2014 @ 5:20 pm | Reply

  4. “Silence gives consent.” So runs an ancient maxim of common law, and from that maxim flows a widely applied legal principle: the rule of tacit admission. On the theory that an innocent man would loudly deny a serious charge, the rule holds that a suspect silent in the face of an accusation has tacitly admitted the crime. And such silence can later be introduced at his trial as an indicator of guilt.

    Comment by charlie — February 27, 2014 @ 12:11 pm | Reply

  5. Thanks Charlie. Silence doesn’t prove guilt but, as you say, people with a strong case take every opportunity to highlight it. I’m very experienced as a news reporter in covering industrial disputes. Nearly always, the case is strong on both sides. So union says ‘they sacked people for being sick’, then management says ‘sick note had expired and we went through proper procedures’, then union says not all procedures properly followed etc, etc. In this case, the aviation industry just doesn’t give me any arguments at all. They either say no comment, or refer me to studies such as Cranfield that are of only peripheral relevance as they don’t cover any fume events or any affected people.

    Comment by felipewh — February 28, 2014 @ 10:21 am | Reply

  6. […] update on last month’s post on the aerotoxic scandal: I’m still in correspondence with a leading figure in the UK establishment – more news […]

    Pingback by People don’t hate change. People hate stupidity | Philip Whiteley's Blog — March 26, 2014 @ 12:37 pm | Reply

  7. Thanks Philip for keeping this in the public domain. Whilst the industry is burying the evidence we are burying family and friends, one being my son Matt Bass.

    Comment by Charlie Baas — February 27, 2016 @ 12:48 pm | Reply

  8. Philip, one thing that does remain silent are published accounts from the aviation sector, in this case Airbus. Just over a year ago the following conversation took place between a pilot who cannot fly because of the effects of toxic air and senior Airbus managers. “What is the companies position on the issue of toxic bleed air?” Airbus senior managers response ” We have a pot of money put aside for this”

    Last month a friendly accountant supporting this issue took a look at the Airbus accounts and said the following.

    “I’ve looked at the 2014 Airbus accounts

    In note 25(c) ie page 69 ( 71 of 140) they disclose ” other provisions”. which includes ” litigations and claims” of Euros 144m, and ” other risks” of Euros 1341m, both as at 31/12/14

    “Litigations and claims” is further described in Note 32 ie page 75 (77 of 140) but there is no mention of any toxic claims – suggesting that no-one has yet commenced litigation against Airbus?

    The ” other risks” provisions which total euros 1341million are not separately described (which is unsatisfactory in my view), but if Airbus have made any provisions for toxic air claims that is where they will be tucked away.

    It is interesting to note that this category has increased from Euros 997million at 01/01/14 to Euros 1341 million at 31/12/14. If you look at note 25(c) you will see that they actually added Euros 849 million to this line but then also used Euros 144 million and released ( ie no longer needed) a further Euros 129 million, but there is no narrative that I can see which explains the movements on this provision ie what was the 144 million used on , and why did Airbus need to add another Euros 849 million to this line?”

    So why did Airbus need to add €849M? What are they expecting.?

    Comment by Charlie Bass — February 27, 2016 @ 5:40 pm | Reply

  9. Charlie. Many thanks for your contribution, and please accept my condolences. Please forward those Airbus documents to me, if you’re able, at I recommend you send them also to Ted Jeory and the reporter at the Mail.

    Comment by felipewh — February 27, 2016 @ 6:31 pm | Reply

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