Can airplane pilots wear mustaches and beards, or is it strictly prohibited?

On the Internet you can come across information that airplane pilots are not allowed to wear mustaches and beards. This is because in case of danger such as fire, they will not be able to use the oxygen mask. Facial hair supposedly releases vital oxygen and a person can die from suffocation. However, in films we are often shown pilots with mustaches and even beards, and nothing bad happens to them because of this. Besides, you yourself could see pilots with facial hair. So what happens, the ban on wearing mustaches for aircraft crew members is a myth, and we are being blatantly lied to? In fact, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Can airplane pilots wear mustaches and beards, or is it strictly prohibited? Wearing a thick beard can cost airplane pilots their lives. Photo.

Wearing a thick beard can cost airplane pilots their lives

Airplane pilots have mustaches and beards

The authors of the scientific editorial staff of IFL Science spoke about the rules that pilots of passenger aircraft follow. In fact, there is a ban on wearing mustaches and beards, but not all airlines. Many organizations do not oppose facial hair, but do impose some restrictions. And there are good reasons for all this.

Facial hair actually reduces the effectiveness of oxygen masks. If there is a fire or other emergency on board an airplane, pilots and all passengers are required to wear an oxygen mask to prevent suffocation. This is especially important for pilots because they need to remain conscious to make an emergency landing.

Airplane pilots have mustaches and beards. Oxygen masks may become less effective due to facial hair. Source: Photo.

Oxygen masks may become less effective due to facial hair. Source:

In 1987, scientists conducted a study in which they found out how much facial hair affects the effectiveness of oxygen masks. It turned out that depending on the length of the beard, oxygen masks become less effective by a range of 16 to 67%. In addition, it is worth considering that during emergency situations, people's breathing quickens and they need more oxygen.

Given this danger, some airlines ask their pilots to have as little facial hair as possible. Many of them do not have a complete ban on mustaches and beards, but ideallypilots must wear a neatly trimmed goatee and a mustache that does not extend beyond the corners of the mouth.In addition, they can lower their sideburns, but only to the middle of the ear.

Airplane pilots have mustaches and beards. Many airplane pilots shave all their hair voluntarily because it is more convenient. Source: Photo.

Some companies like American Airlines require pilots to be completely shaved. These rules never apply to passengers; you can board the plane even with a long beard. Yes, the effectiveness of oxygen masks decreases, but for passengers such a decrease is not critical – a person may lose consciousness, but certainly will not die.

Read also: Why planes crash and how to survive in disaster?

Signs of airplane pilots

For military pilots, the rules for wearing a mustache and beard are often stricter than for passenger aircraft pilots. This is due to more stringent requirements for safety and discipline.

Military units usually have strict rules regarding personal appearance and hygiene. These rules are aimed at maintaining discipline and uniformity among service members. Many forces prohibit beards, except for religious or medical reasons, which are officially approved. In addition, in addition to oxygen masks, soldiers sometimes have to wear additional equipment such as gas masks and helmets – moustaches and beards can also reduce their effectiveness.Signs of airplane pilots. Military pilots are required to follow even more rules. Source: Photo.

Military pilots have even more rules to follow. Source:

Many airplane pilots believe in omens. Therefore, in some cases, when it does not violate any rules, they specifically do not shave before the flight. Sometimes pilots start wearing at least a little facial hair because it supposedly brings them good luck. There are other signs of pilots: for example, they carry talismans with them, perform a strictly defined series of actions when entering the cockpit, and so on. If you want to know why people believe in omens, read our article about a broken mirror.

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Finally, it is worth mentioning the positive aspects of wearing a beard. Many people simply like the appearance of a beard; it enhances a person's image. But, besides this, vegetation on the skin can protect against ultraviolet rays, keep you warm in the cold, and even help avoid skin irritation – many people experience discomfort after shaving. There is also an assumption that a beard can save you from injury, and this has even been the subject of a scientific study.