Aircraft mechanics are highly skilled workers who have been vital to the flight industries since the early 20th century. Many aircraft mechanics are trained to maintain and repair a wide variety of aircraft, from helicopters to airliners and jets. While many aircraft mechanics work across multiple types of aircraft and engine types, some specialized aircraft mechanics may choose to only focus on particular systems, such as the electrical components of planes or the engine of a certain kind of aircraft.
As part of their job, aircraft mechanics are charged with determining the cause of various mechanical or electrical issues in an aircraft that could result in a serious malfunction. Mechanics fix and maintain various parts of the aircraft, including its engine, electrical components, and body. These job duties often put them into contact with and exposed them to asbestos.
In addition, mechanics also look for wear or cracks in the airplane’s body, wings, and tail, and use specialized devices such as x-rays or ultrasonic equipment to search for structural defects that would otherwise be invisible to the naked eye. For much of the 20th century, it was common for certain aircraft parts – brakes, brake pads, and clutches, for example – to be made using asbestos-containing materials, putting countless workers at risk of exposure.
Aircraft Mechanics and Asbestos Exposure
Historically, due to the amount of asbestos-containing parts many aircraft mechanics handled while working, they have been at risk for developing asbestos-related diseases and mesothelioma, a lethal type of lung cancer. Though the hazards of asbestos exposure were not publicly well-known until the mid-1970s, asbestos was used widely before then as a fire retardant in aircraft insulation, clutches, and brakes.
In the 1980s, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned certain uses of asbestos, and as a result, it is not used as widely in mechanical aircraft parts today. That said, trace amounts of asbestos are still found in components such as brake pads. Asbestos exposure still poses a grave health risk for aircraft mechanics, especially for those who have come into contact with older aircraft parts manufactured before the 1980s.
While asbestos has been used in a range of parts used to manufacture aircraft, its most prevalent current use is in brakes. According to research studies, individuals who repair brakes in aircraft face a higher level of asbestos exposure – and this is especially true for older or retired aircraft mechanics who worked in the industry for decades. Such studies have also determined that an increased number of people who work with aircraft parts go on to develop pleural mesothelioma.
Help for Aircraft Mechanics and Their Families
Today there are better workplace safety guidelines in place to protect mechanics from asbestos exposure, but mesothelioma is a slow-growing cancer that often takes 20 to 50 years to develop. Many mechanics who worked with asbestos-containing products in the past are still at risk of disease today. There is no way of knowing how many aircraft mechanics may still experience the life-threatening effects of this carcinogen.
Luckily, all hope is not lost for aircraft mechanics and their loved ones. Sokolove Law can help you understand your legal options. As a mesothelioma law firm with more than 40 years of experience in the industry, you can trust our commitment to finding justice for mesothelioma patients.
Contact us today for a free legal consultation to see if we can help you.