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Australia: FOI Reveals Aviation Authority Has Not Assessed the Risk of Wearing Face Masks at Altitud

Australia: FOI Reveals Aviation Authority Has Not Assessed the Risk of Wearing Face Masks at Altitude and GAAC Replies to CASA’s Poor Response Concerning Vaccine Safety for Pilots

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.

Vaccine safety for Pilots: GAAC’s Reply to CASA

On 26 June, in an open letter to Australia’s CASA, 13 GAAC members, led by Aussie Freedom Flyers, engaged Australia’s aviation regulator, CASA, with essential questions about the safe conduct of flight operations in the context of Covid-19 policy.

On 19 July GAAC received a response:

“Before any Covid-19 vaccine is approved for use in Australia it will be subject to well-established and rigorous assessment and approval processes of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (“TGA”), part of the Department of Health.”

CASA then attached 8 pages of information from the TGA. Below is an extract from Page 7, note the highlighted text:

On 21 July, GAAC replied:

“You state that ‘the SARS-CoV-2 vaccines available in Australia have been approved for use by the TGA and are therefore treated by CASA the same as any other immunisation’. No Covid-19 vaccine has been fully approved. They are all subject to Provisional Determination Notices and are provisionally approved for use. The TGA states:

“What significance does such conditionality, ongoing trials and lack of full data have on CASA’s view of medical products in use under provisional authorisation in the aviation industry?”

You can read the correspondence, in full, in GAAC’s Substack article: GAAC’s Reply to Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

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