Jakarta, CNBC Indonesia – Each airline has a strict maintenance policy. One of them requires their cabin crew to wear a certain hairstyle and even a certain nuance of make-up.
However, not everyone knows that there are rules for pilots who are not allowed to have mustaches and beards. That’s partly for aesthetic reasons and partly for safety reasons, according to Travel Radars.
Southwest and United are examples of airlines with strict rules requiring their pilots to shave their heads. Other airlines allow pilots to have facial hair, but it’s mandatory to keep it neat.
Photo: Lion Air pilot who crashed, Bhavye Suneja (Photo: doc. Facebook)
For example, Air Canada allows airline crew members to have beards as long as they are neatly trimmed and no longer than 1.25 cm.
In general, commercial pilots are not allowed to have facial hair other than a mustache. Mustaches are often tolerated by airlines that ban beards, because they don’t pose the same safety risk as beards.
Why can a beard pose a security risk?
Pilots need to be able to don oxygen masks quickly and safely in the event of an emergency, and there is concern that beards could hinder the process.
If the cabin depressurizes at 43,000 feet, you have about 10 seconds of awareness before you can’t put the mask on yourself. So it is very important for pilots to wear their oxygen masks as quickly as possible.
It is thought that the beards may prevent the mask from obtaining a proper seal after being fitted. The US Federal Aviation Authority says beards can interfere with the effectiveness of oxygen masks by causing unwanted leaks.
Not a few mask manufacturers also include a statement that masks do not meet TSO requirements to be worn over thick beards or facial hair.
Test the oxygen mask on the beard
However, science does not necessarily support this concern. When Air Canada banned beards for safety reasons, researchers from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver decided to conduct a study to see if beards were as dangerous as they claimed.
The scientists tested three groups of bearded men, namely men with beards, medium length, and bushy. This study sought to see if their facial hair had an effect on oxygen delivery through the mask.
Subjects were placed into a pressure chamber simulating depressurization at high altitude, while their oxygen saturation level was measured. The result was that all three groups displayed healthy oxygen levels overall. These results indicate that the beard does not affect the seal and cause leakage.
The study was enough to convince Air Canada to lift its ban on beards, but other airlines may still not want to take the plunge.
In the end, the ban on bearded pilots was more an aesthetic decision than a practical one.