On 21 September, a cross-party committee of the German Bundestag (parliament) heard evidence that cabin air in airliners is frequently contaminated by organophosphate neurotoxins from engine oil, and that all aircraft should be fitted with toxic fume detection and filtration systems as compulsory.
Bundestag member Markus Tressel, tourism representative for the Green Party, said airlines must respond to the evidence submitted to the committee, otherwise "their protestations that passenger safety is their top priority can no longer be taken seriously".
Tressell said the evidence shows that the German aviation authority (LBA) "does not recognise the problem", whereas the accident investigation agency (BFU) has more than 60 reports on fume events from German carriers alone.
Tressel called for detection systems to be fitted on all airliners, for anti-wear oil additives that contain organophosphates to be replaced and for effective cabin air filtration systems to be developed and fitted.
He said he wants to see a commission set up to examine the issue, insisting it should consist of the aviation authorities, pilot and cabin crew union representatives and scientists.
Meanwhile, Tressel maintained, the LBA and BFU should be capturing samples and checking the aircraft bleed air systems for contamination. Finally, he said, there should be penalties for failure to report fume events.
One of the many witnesses called before the committee, Dr Susan Michaelis, said that until onboard detection systems are mandated, the extent of the problem cannot be assessed.
Her research has shown that fume events have regularly gone unreported for many years.