Safety Implication of Mask Wearing in an Aircraft Cabin Setting

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assumed a leadership role in developing a preparedness plan for communicable disease in air travel and identifying associated research needs. The FAA’s approach to the planning effort is to use its existing Safety Risk Management (SRM) process, as documented in FAA Order 8040.4B, to determine the risk of transmission of a disease requiring flight-related contact tracing within a population of airline passengers and cabin crewmembers between the times of population formation and dispersion and the expected impacts of mitigation activities. This research project will answer the question, are there significant changes in cardiopulmonary physiology between the following conditions: no mask at sea level, mask (surgical and N95) at sea level, mask (surgical and N95) at 8,000 ft altitude, and mask (surgical and N95) at 8,000 ft during exercise consistent with cabin crew peak workload? This project will conduct a high-quality systemic review to (1) develop evidence-based statements answering the aforementioned questions with associated GRADE level of evidence, (2) identify data gaps as derived from evidence-based statements with low GRADE certainty levels, and (3) as applicable, develop research protocol(s) to address #2. The resulting analysis report and associated data will be transitioned for use in communicable disease transmission preparedness planning.