Post-Smoke/Fume Event Procedure

The need for a standardised and accessible response procedure

Currently, there is little education and training on how to recognise a fume event and respond to it. Most doctors (even AME's) and hospitals are unfamiliar with aviation fume events and have no idea how to respond. There have been calls for medical guidance (Harper, 2005; Harrison, 2009; BG Verkher, 2014; IATA, 2015; Michaelis, 2017; CAA, 2017; Heutelbeck, 2018; Hageman, 2019; CEN, 2022; Burdon, 2023) on how to assess and treat aircrew after fume events. According to a recent EASA study (Schuchart, 2017), there is a “lack of data to evaluate the exposure to certain air contaminants that result from fume events". That study and others call for additional data related to contaminated cabin air events. In the absence of aircraft air quality sensors and without a standardised and detailed medical protocol that is readily accessible to occupational, aviation, and urgent medicine physicians, medical information remains fragemented and cannot be used for further research.  An agreed procedure to assess and document the medical impacts of these occurrences would provide a standardised body of evidence. This would more systematically define the health impacts and could also support the development of more targeted medical tests and treatment options. Ideally, it would also motivate technological improvements to prevent exposure to fumes. 

Objectives of a standardised post-smoke/fume event procedure

This document is a practical reference based on the article by Burdon (2023) “Health consequences of exposure to aircraft contaminated air and fume events: a narrative review and medical protocol for the investigation of exposed aircrew and passengers” and its original supplement and online version. It provides practical guidance on actions to be taken in the form of checklists, and it outlines the different medical tests and tools available today in response to a fume event. The following pages outline a proposed standard procedure to follow a smoke and/or fume event. They cover different areas including onboard recognition, suitable operational procedures during and after the flight, event reporting procedures, and medical follow-up. The medical component intends to guide physicians in recognizing, assessing, and managing persons suffering from the toxic effects of inhaling fumes sourced to heated engine oil and hydraulic fluids on aircraft. Next to the scientific background of the protocol, other sources include ICAO, IATA, EASA guidance documents, as well as existing manufacturer and airline procedures.

Apart from the downloadable procedure this webpage serves as an easy-to-use, mobile-friendly, online version of the original supplement. It is intended to serve as a digital reference for Cabin Air Quality events follow-up. No changes where made to the text or images of the original paper.

The aim of the procedure document is trifold:


Hereunder you find the latest versions of the Post-Smoke/Fume Procedure document. This is the initial version. Any updated versions will contain specific revision information.


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About us

This procedure is the result of an intense cooperation between the Global Cabin Air Quality Executive (GCAQE) and the Belgian Cockpit Association (BeCA). 

The Global Cabin Air Quality Executive (GCAQE), established in 2006, is now a UK registered not for profit limited company. The GCAQE is the leading organization representing air crew (pilots, cabin crew and engineers) and consumers, that deals specifically with contaminated air issues and cabin air quality. We currently represent 25 organisations, and over one hundred thousand workers around the world. The primary purpose of the GCAQE is to effect the changes in the aviation industry that are necessary to prevent crewmembers, passengers and ground workers exposed to turbine emissions from being exposed to oil and hydraulic fluid in the ventilation air supplied to the cabin and flight deck.

The Belgian Cockpit Association (BeCA) is the only recognised professional association representing airline pilots in Belgium. It is self-funded and politically independent. BeCA works in close cooperation with other Belgian stakeholders and provides them with its large expertise on matters linked to the pilot profession and aviation safety. BeCA works in close cooperation with national unions, who can rely on BeCA’s expertise and knowledge on aviation matters. Today, BeCA represents some 600 pilots working for the following companies: Air Belgium, ASL Airlines Belgium, Brussels Airlines, Challenge Airlines, EAT/DHL, Ryanair, TUIfly Belgium, in addition to expatriate members, job seekers and pilot students. BeCA also represents its members at the European and international levels, through its active involvement in the European Cockpit Association (ECA) and the International Federation of Air Line Pilot Associations (IFALPA). 

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