April 11, 2006

The beard and the oxygen mask.

Excessive secularism or basic science?

13 comments:

tommy said...

FAA regulations (at least for part 121) prohibit more facial hair than a mustache because of the inability to obtain an adequate seal on an oxygen mask with a beard. The military doesn't permit beards anyway so I guess it's a moot point to discuss their policy.

Simon said...

If he's stupid enough to want to break a perfectly sensible rule, I say that the military should let him - just as soon as he deposits with the Air Force enough money to replace the plane and cover the costs of his funeral, for when he crashes a perfectly good aircraft after blacking out.

Palladian said...

Basic science- I don't know about the military, but any job that requires a respirator of any kind for protection absolutely requires a clean-shaven face; you cannot get a proper seal on any type of mask if you have a beard. I know from personal experience because I have a beard and frequently work with dangerous chemicals. I make my own paints, so I often work with things like powdered lead carbonate, or vermillion (mercuric sulfide) and because I cannot obtain a proper seal on a respirator, I had to invest in an expensive ventilation hood to work under. Not an option in the case of a fighter pilot and oxygen.

Dave said...

People with beards can't scuba dive; I see no difference between self contained underwater breathing apparatuses and high-altitude self-contained breathing apparatuses.

At this point I am so sick of religion that nothing shocks me any more, even a religious person's willingness to risk death to further his career.

Have these people no brains? Evidently not.

Goesh said...

food particles in the whiskers is what prevents a proper seal with an oxygen mask

joewxman said...

Dave,
I would just say that in these cases it isn't about religion as it is about people who use their faith as an excuse to extend a point of view that is completely self centered. Here we have a guy who has decided that his faith is more important than his job..and thats fine. He should resign. Instead they choose to grandstand and say...My rights are being violated..my faith is being violated.Well you know what..make a choice. Shave or move on. I would think that if your faith were so important to you; you would avoid situations that put you in conflict.

Then again I imagine being in the air force in Pakistan pays more than say knitting soccer balls.

J said...

"He had gone to the United States for training and faced no technical problems there," Mr Baluch said.

If that technical training involved flying he did - assuming he had the beard he has now. But this is basic science - a diluter demand 02 system simply doesn't work without a good seal. He could use the emergency setting and have positive pressure all the time, but he might run out of 02 pretty quickly. As for simon's idea, your wingman generally assumes you're concious, so they might be in danger too. Another problem is that hypoxia can cause people to do weird stuff (http://www.cnn.com/US/9704/11/missing.a10/index.html) that might cause big trouble in that neighborhood.

For Dave: I thought that divers put the regulator directly in their mouth. Does a beard interfere with that technique?

The PAF is right on this one. If the guy wants to grow a beard, fine. But it's just not safe to do that and fly a fighter.

Smilin' Jack said...

For Dave & J

A beard is no problem for scuba diving (since you do put the regulator in your mouth) but a moustache is, since it makes it hard to get a tight seal with a face mask. Divers with moustaches often shave the area just under the nose where the mask sits.

paul a'barge said...

The Navy allows some beards.
People with beards do SCUBA dive.

Come on folks, let's not be making up stuff.

Alex said...

During the first Gulf War, when Israel was threatened by chemical attacks from Iraq and the citizens were being issued gas masks, there was quite a bit of discussion on this topic, since some religious Jewish men also make a point of wearing beards. I seem to recall that they eventually came up with a method (using plastic bags, I think?) that would allow a reasonable seal between the mask and the face. If that's correct, wouldn't the same thing work in this case?

tommy said...

well the environment in a fighter under G complicates the entire mask seal issue. None of the ones I've used as a commercial pilot would have worked very well under G. It was never an issue in the Air Force since anything acceptable under 35-10 (or whatever that reg is now known as) wasn't going to cause problems with the mask. I can't speak for the Navy. The mask in the airplane I fly now has a "beards will not seal" imprint on it, and the airline ops specs state that beards aren't allowed in the cockpit, except for FAA inspectors. I've never figured that one out.

monkeyboy said...

The Navy stopped allowing beards in the late 1970s for this reason. Not only are the pilots clean shaven, but ship crews also need a clean seal on emergency breathing apparatus used during fire fighting on board. Smoke inhalation is a huge danger when your fighting a fire below the waterline.

Sean E said...

"Here we have a guy who has decided that his faith is more important than his job..and thats fine. He should resign."

I completely agree. Adhering to a strict religious code sometimes involves making sacrifices. If your beliefs are that important to you, make the sacrifice and quit with the whining. Religious strictures are pretty cheap if you can expect the rest of the world just to change to accomodate you.

Besides, giving up an air force career should be peanuts compared to giving up bacon.