FAA orders removal of all airplane bathroom oxygen masks

bathroom oxygen maskYesterday, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a directive instructing the removal of oxygen masks from every single commercial aircraft in the United States.

The reason? A “potential security threat”.

No specifics were mentioned, but apparently, the oxygen generator used in the airplane bathroom could somehow be used in terrorist attacks – and this was serious enough to order every one of them removed or disabled. The most likely scenario is that the oxygen generators would be used to create a massive fire, too fierce to be put out by current extinguishers on the plane.

Thankfully, rapid decompression events that require oxygen masks are quite rare But from now on, if you are in the lavatory during one of them, you’ll have to make your way back to your seat to get some oxygen. And remember, always fit your own mask before helping others. Houston’s KPRC got a statement from the FAA, published after the jump.

[Photo: Flickr/Danquella Manera]

FAA’s Full Statement

“The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently required the nation’s airlines to disable the oxygen generators located in all aircraft lavatories to eliminate a potential safety and security vulnerability.

The airlines completed the work on the 6,000 aircraft in the U.S. fleet on Friday, March 4.”The FAA, along with other federal agencies, identified and validated the potential threat, then devised a solution that could be completed quickly.”In order to protect the traveling public, the FAA eliminated the problem before making the work public.

Had the FAA publicized the existence of this security vulnerability prior to airlines fixing it, thousands of planes across the U.S. and the safety of passengers could have been at risk. This proactive measure will help keep travelers as safe and secure as possible.”Rapid decompression events on commercial aircraft are extremely rare. If there is a sudden loss of cabin pressure, pilots are already trained to guide the aircraft to a safe, breathable altitude as quickly as possible. Flight attendants are also already trained to assist passengers to quickly access oxygen – including those in the lavatories.”Lynn Lunsford Mid-States Communications Manager Federal Aviation Administration