Bill takes aim at FAA’s sleep apnea policy

Friday, January 17, 2014

WASHINGTON – A bill introduced Jan. 16 in the Senate would require the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to follow a rulemaking process before changing its sleep apnea policy, according to news reports. Faced with stiff opposition from some pilot groups, lawmakers and physicians, the FAA recently put on hold its plans to require pilots with body mass indices of more than 40 to be screened for sleep apnea. “Testing private pilots for sleep apnea might be a worthwhile idea but the agency should have talked to its stakeholders first,” said Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska. “If they had been willing to listen to the aviation community they might have found smarter and less intrusive ways to ensure pilots are safe to fly. The irony is that sleep apnea has never been identified as a factor in a general aviation incident.” Late last year, Congress stepped in to require that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration go through a similar process before issuing sleep apnea guidelines for truckers.