An unexplained in-flight fume exposure incident forced an international passenger airliner to turn around, dump fuel and land after several members of cabin crew and passengers felt unwell.

The American Airlines flight from London to Los Angeles retuned to land at Heathrow last week after only two and a half hours in the air when one crew member fainted and other staff and passengers complained of feeling unwell.

On landing, the flight was met by emergency services where crew members and passengers were assessed by paramedics.

The UK’s largest trade union, Unite, which represents cabin crew staff has called for a public inquiry into ‘aerotoxic syndrome’, an illness caused by breathing in cabin air contaminated by organophosphate and other chemical compounds from engine lubricants, and for cabins to be fitted with fume detectors.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) maintains that incidents of smoke and fumes on aircraft are rare and that there is no evidence of long-term health implications.

Unite has instructed leading national law firm Thompsons Solicitors to investigate over 50 cases for current or former cabin crew members who report suffering from aerotoxic syndrome.

David Robinson of Thompsons Solicitors said: “Any flight where contaminated cabin air causes crew members to experience symptoms of illness should be immediately investigated.

“Fume events of this kind, and the long term effect of chronic exposure to contaminated cabin air, could have serious long term health implications and must be properly investigated by the cabin crew employer and CAA."

If you are concerned about aerotoxic syndrome or are experiencing any of the symptoms related to the disease, please call the helpline on 03330 146 569.