Aviation Medical Examiners Oppose FAA Apnea Policy

 - December 12, 2013, 3:09 PM

The Civil Aviation Medical Association (CAMA), a group that represents aviation medical examiners (AMEs) in the U.S., is opposing the FAA’s newly proposed policy “that would task AMEs to determine body mass index (BMI) on all pilot applicants.” A BMI exceeding a set value–initially 40–would require evaluation by a board-certified sleep specialist to determine if the pilot applicant has obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

In a letter sent to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta, CAMA said it objects to the proposal for several reasons. “The FAA is not tasked to provide long-term prognoses, but rather to determine the likelihood of pilot incapacitation for the duration of the medical certificate,” it noted. “No scientific body of evidence has demonstrated that undiagnosed obesity or OSA has compromised aviation safety.”

CAMA suggests that this issue would be addressed more effectively through educational efforts, rather than regulatory measures that “would greatly burden a critically taxed medical certification system already suffering from very significant processing delays.” It also cited the lack of accredited sleep centers and the high cost burden for pilots to undergo sleep studies.