Canadian pilots to allow beards, opening door for Sikhs and Muslims in other areas too
By Barfi Culture Team
18th September 2018

A study that found respirator masks work effectively on bearded faces may have far reaching consequences across Canada.

It has debunked the myth that respirators need a hair free surface to work effectively, prompting Air Canada to change its policy overnight. It will now allow aircrew to allow neatly trimmed beards with a maximum length of 1.25 centimetres, according to CBC News.

The belief that oxygen-supply masks could only be sealed properly on a clean-shaven face was disproved by a team from British Columbia's Simon Fraser University.

Air Canada commissioned the study after receiving an application from an experienced pilot who is Sikh.

"They were Sikh and were not going to be clean shaven. That brought up the question to Air Canada that is this policy still a valid policy or is it just a carry-over from the old days," said Sherri Ferguson, who headed the study.

The change in Air Canada's policy will affect bearded Muslims as well as Sikhs. But it may also have wider implications.

The Canadian Armed Forces and other airlines have also contacted the university to get their data and consider changing their own policy, CBC reported.

Canadian Forces allow Sikhs with turbans and a beard to serve, but not always in missions where they may have to wear a mask.

Canada's Minister of National Defence, Harjit Sajjan (pictured), is a Sikh who wears a turban and a beard.

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