The Strange Reason Behind Why Pilots Are Almost Always Clean-Shaven

<span class="copyright">miljko via Getty Images</span>
miljko via Getty Images

Have you ever wondered why pilots don’t tend to have beards? Well, me neither, but when you think about it, have you ever seen a pilot sporting a big bushy beard?

Weird, right?

It’ll differ from airline to airline but for the UK’s biggest airline, British Airways, this is the rule pertaining to hair: “Men’s hair must meet a conventional style which is appropriate for a professional environment; shaven or sculptured styles and long hair are not permitted.

“Dyed hair must be of a natural colour for both men and women.”

Of course, this is in part due to appearance, especially on an airline as prestigious as British Airways but according to experts, it’s also a crucial matter of safety.

Why pilots do not tend to have beards

According to Wayman Aviation Academy, the most crucial thing on airlines is passenger and staff safety, which isn’t all that surprising.

What is surprising, though, is that beards can actually compromise the safety of pilots in the instance of an emergency.

Wayman Aviation explained: “In emergency situations, pilots must don oxygen masks quickly and efficiently. Facial hair can disrupt the tight seal necessary between the mask and the face, potentially compromising the flow of oxygen.

“This is critical at high altitudes where oxygen levels are low. Ensuring a proper seal can be the difference between life and death, making the clean-shaven rule a non-negotiable aspect of airline safety protocols.”

Additionally, in a 1987 safety review of masks and facial hair found that facial hair really can impact the efficacy of masks.

The report read: “The data resulting from these tests indicated that decrement in performance does occur when facial hair is present along the sealing surface of crew oxygen masks.

“This decrement is proportional to the amount of facial hair present, the type mask worn, the suspension system associated with the mask, and the exercise level to which the individual is subjected.”

It’s probably not worth it, to be honest.