"The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is putting airline passengers and crew at risk by demanding that air traffic controllers wear masks even while communicating vital information to pilots, according to a controller who reached out to investigative journalist Alex Berenson.
Last week, the FAA released an updated Safety Alert for Operators that calls for compliance with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) February order 'requiring the use of masks on public conveyances (including aircraft) traveling into, within, or out of the United States, and in U.S. transportation hubs including airports.'
The document 'includes an exemption if wearing a mask would create a risk to workplace health, safety, or job duty as determined by the relevant workplace safety guidelines or federal regulations,' but on Sunday, Berenson shared an email he says he received from an air traffic controller indicating that, in practice, exceptions aren’t being made for safety or job duty, and that forcing him to wear a mask even while communicating with pilots makes it harder for pilots to accurately understand him.
'Worst case scenario is a pilot thinks we say something, reads it back wrong, and it results in disaster if we can’t correct them before we lose them on radios,' the source says. 'Not once has the FAA addressed the issue of adding a communication barrier to the operation. I’ve reported getting bad read-backs and told my supervisor that pilots can’t hear me or understand me. It’s not all the time, but it’s noticeable.'
Berenson addressed the controversy Tuesday evening with Fox News host Tucker Carlson, which Berenson later said inspired even more airline industry insiders to come forward with stories indicating 'masks are between a serious inconvenience and an actual hazard for pilot-to-ATC communication':
Tucker Carlson and Alex Berenson discuss how the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) management's weird obsession with (apparently) forcing air traffic controllers to wear face masks when talking to pilots could lead to devastating consequences. pic.twitter.com/aw0ojYLfA1
— Scott Morefield (@SKMorefield) March 9, 2021
In the wake of tonight’s @tuckercarlson appearance I have heard from several more controllers and pilots - it seems clear masks are between a serious inconvenience and an actual hazard for pilot-to-ATC communication. Hopefully FAA will take note.
— Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson) March 9, 2021
In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams counseled against wearing masks, as did White House COVID adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, claiming they were ineffective at blocking COVID. But the public later learned that health officials actually wanted to discourage the general public from buying masks to conserve the supply for health workers.
Despite the popular insistence that masking is essential outside one’s home, there remain reasons to doubt their effectiveness, such as the CDC’s September acknowledgement that masks cannot be counted on to keep out the coronavirus when spending 15 minutes or longer within six feet of someone, or a May 2020 study published by CDC’s peer-reviewed journal Emerging Infectious Diseases that 'did not find evidence that surgical-type face masks are effective in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza transmission, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility.'"
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