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A group of 10 commercial airline pilots from six states filed suit Tuesday against the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to strike down the Federal Transportation Mask Mandate, arguing forcing them to obstruct their normal breathing harms their health and endangers aviation safety. It’s the first legal challenge to the FTMM filed by airline workers.

Pilots filed the 61-page complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia just hours after the Senate voted 57-40 to repeal the mask mandate and one day after 17 members of Congress sued CDC in Kentucky. They charge CDC and its parent agency, the Department of Health & Human Services, with seven violations of the law and Constitution. The pilots, who work for four U.S. airlines, ask the court to vacate the mandate and permanently enjoin the federal government from ever issuing it again.

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Lead plaintiff Janviere Carlin of Massachusetts, a pilot for JetBlue Airways, said the Biden Administration’s fourth extension of the FTMM, announced March 10 and effective until April 18, forced pilots to take legal action. She described the lawsuit as “patriotic” and “the right thing to do” to protect aviation safety.

“When the pandemic was in its early phases, we took a wait-and-see approach with regard to the mask requirements, but most of us realized right away that they were in direct conflict with our legal and innate obligation to conduct safe flights,” Carlin said. “Our pilot license is directly linked to our medical certificate. Those requirements touch each of us individually, so we each came up with our own ways of making sure that we were always safe and legal for flight. But unfortunately, that always put us in conflict with the mask mandate.”

The pilots’ case is at least the 18th lawsuit attacking the legality of the FTMM but the first by airline employees who are commandeered by the federal government to enforce the mask mandate.

“As pilots for major airlines, we have seen up close and personal the chaos in the sky created by the FTMM, with thousands of reports to the Federal Aviation Administration of ‘unruly’ passenger behavior since the FTMM took effect Feb. 1, 2021 – nearly all of which have been caused by incidents related to masks,” the complaint states. “We have serious concerns about the safety implications of the mask mandate, none of which were studied by CDC or HHS as the policy was rushed into place only 12 days after the inauguration of a new president who made a national mask mandate a top campaign promise – even though he acknowledged it was likely unconstitutional.”

Cristina Field of South Carolina, a pilot for PSA Airlines (American Eagle), said the group is suing CDC because the agency did not factor in pilots’ unique situations and health requirements in rushing the FTMM into place in a matter of days.

“As airline pilots, we trust our governing organizations to have our best interests in mind,” she said. “When it comes to masks, due diligence wasn’t performed to assess the effects on our physical and mental health. I perform risk/benefit analysis daily as part of my job, and I know the risks of wearing a mask outweigh any benefits. We want to make sure the forced wearing of masks goes away, never to return.”

Jeffery Chandler of Maryland, a pilot for Southwest Airlines, said it’s important for the public to understand that pilots are required to pass a medical exam every 6-12 months to maintain their licenses.

“FAA’s standards for medical certificates are published in the Code of Federal Regulations,” he said. “But nowhere do the regulations have any language addressing the effects of masking, nor has the government conducted any studies.”

Chandler said pilots are obligated and entrusted to individually make continuous decisions about their fitness to fly.

“Understanding the importance of our health, pilots must protect ourselves and flight attendants from the damages and dangers of wearing a mask for no other reason than to project a message of compliance,” he said.

Read more and download the complaint at www.lucas.travel.

Author: Press Release

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