During an interview in April, Dr. Kevin Stillwagon raised the risks to airline passengers when wearing masks at altitude. He spoke of an incident he witnessed during a flight of a passenger losing consciousness.
“We’re required to fill out an incident form, the flight attendants fill that out – particularly if the passenger has lost consciousness – it has to go into the records,” he said. So, somebody knows this information, it’s just that the public hasn’t been made aware of it. Until someone demands this information or submits a request under Freedom of Information, we’re not likely to find out how many passengers are experiencing an incident from being forced to wear masks at altitude.
Since then, someone has submitted a Freedom of Information (“FOI”) request for:
“All documents, emails, data and supporting evidence for any CASA risk assessment into/covering the use of face masks by passengers, crew and other aviation employees and personnel, since January 2020.”
Global Aviation Advocacy Coalition (“GAAC”) published the FOI response from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (“CASA”) – there are no risk assessment documents regarding the wearing of face masks during flights:
“In accordance with subparagraph 24A(1)(b)(ii) of the Act, I refuse your request for access as I am satisfied that the documents you are seeking do not exist.”
The FOI game is all about asking for the right thing in the right way, wrote GAAC, but according to the way this question was asked (“all documents, emails, data and supporting evidence for any CASA risk assessment…”), literally, no such documents exist.
That, if true, means the Australian aviation regulator performed zero risk assessment for the use of masks by aviation personnel while at altitude under any circumstances.
This would imply that, like is seen in aspects of UK government documents, the responsibility may be outsourced to corporations e.g., airlines.
However, using the UK as a parallel example, there exists written admission from a major UK airline that it never did any such risk assessments despite making its employees and passengers use masks when at work and when airborne.