For some time it has been apparent that if action over the issue of cabin air contamination were to be initiated, German aviation would probably supply the impetus. That is now proving to be true.
For the first time anywhere in the world, a senior government minister has not merely suggested yet another study to establish whether there is an issue at all, but has called for urgent action over an issue for which he clearly sees the evidence in front of his eyes. German transport minister Peter Ramsauer has written to EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas citing 74 reports of pyrolised oil fume incidents in German carriers, nine of which he says were judged by accident investigator BFU to have posed a serious risk to safety.
Ramsauer says reports of these incidents are increasing, and he wants action. He wants Kallas to ensure the European Aviation Safety Agency comes up with a solution to the problem. EASA is aware of the issue, but has been using industry smokescreens and denials to put off dealing with it. EASA's own problem is the fact that it is chronically under-resourced.
Ramsauer is right, however, to make this a European problem. Now EASA exists, Germany cannot deal with the issue on its own. But it is because Germany's reporting and investigating culture, while not perfect, is more honest and open than that of any other EU country, that EASA will ultimately have to act.
(This first appeared as a leading article in Flight International 23 October issue)