13th July 2023

Contaminated water

Initial Report

Aircraft keeps being dispatched with contaminated water.

Advised not to use the water from G1, G2 & G4

Have to tell passengers not to clean their teeth with water out of the taps.

Crew are told to use anti-bac after washing their hands.

Advised we can serve hot drinks but we didn’t.

The aircraft conditions are also absolutely freezing as they have disabled the underfloor heating in galleys so we couldn’t warm up with a hot drink on a 9.5 hour flight.

Company Comment

We have not received any further reports internally concerning issues related to allegations of contaminated potable water, other than the issues raised in this report, which have also been raised separately via the Cabin Crew [Union] H&S Reps at their meeting.

As part of our water quality monitoring programme, [Contract Organisation] continue to monitor our potable water which includes regular audits and monthly potable water testing, this is managed via our Airports Business Area. ([Contract Organisation] also conduct our food safety audits at our catering units worldwide). Findings from this monitoring are reviewed each month at internal meetings and actions taken, this includes alerting the Engineering team should an aircraft require the water tank to be decontaminated. In the event that there are bowser issues and sufficient potable water cannot be uploaded or, alleged contamination (until testing has taken place), alternative measures are taken – this can include provision of bottled water to customers, suspension of hot beverages, antibacterial wipes/gel in LAVs and additional bottled water supplied to our crew.

We have reminded [The Trade Union] to encourage their members to continue to raise safety related ORs to ensure that we are able to monitor trends and take action in a timely manner.  This also enables us to ensure our Airports and Engineering and Maintenance teams to take the necessary action (such as water treatment). [Element of Operators Defect Recording System] are in place to advise crew and engineering of what action they are required to take in regards to serving of water from the galleys – this information is also shared by the Senior Cabin Crew Member to the cabin crew at the briefing to ensure they are forewarned.  It is also very important that cabin crew record any issues in the Cabin Defects Log or Tech Log, to ensure Engineering are aware after the flight has landed. In regard to the galley heated floor issues, the [scheduled] cabin activity will not comprise of any work on the galley floor heating. From a safety perspective, the decision was made to deactivate the floor heating system due to overheating.

CAA Comment

Having reviewed the internal safety and technical reports, there appears to be a very infrequent number. However, a report relating to the CHIRP occurrence has been identified. As a result of these infrequent reports, the operator does not see a systemic issue across their aircraft which can be narrowed down to a fleet, tail or station which is causing particular concern. The water is routinely tested and treated per their procedures.

CHIRP Comment

The lack of potable water will have been an inconvenience and extra burden on the crew. Sufficient bottled water should be loaded for passenger and crew use and hand gel made available. The legislation, ICAO, WHO, Guide to Hygiene and Sanitation in Aviation 2009.  2.1.5 Page 11, state that one use for potable water is emergency medical use.

This report has been ongoing since 18th October 2022 and a further communication in May 2023 recorded another contaminated aircraft. The Operator has reported that oversight, sampling and possible preventative action are still subject to review. It is unclear why the crew decided not to serve hot drinks as they had been advised that hot drinks could have been served and so be cautious about restricting yourself more than is required.

The floor heating seems to be an issue that is going to be around for some time and CHIRP has ascertained that not all operators of the same aircraft type have carried out a blanket deactivation of the galley floor system. Please continue to report regarding these issues via your operator as they are best placed to resolve your concerns.

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