FAA Backs Off on Plans for Sleep Apnea Screening

 - December 24, 2013, 8:30 AM

The FAA’s plan to implement a new policy requiring screening of pilots for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been put on hold, pending FAA consultation with industry stakeholders, according to GA lobby groups. FAA Federal Air Surgeon Fred Tilton had planned to have aviation medical examiners begin requiring pilots with a body mass index of 40 or more to undergo mandatory OSA screening, with plans eventually to lower that threshold to 30.

“As the FAA considers unilateral implementation of a policy of this magnitude,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen, “the proposal should be subject to transparency, in part through commentary from affected parties, as well as analysis of its data-driven justification, costs, benefits and other important criteria.” Bolen added that Tilton’s original plan to screen pilots for OSA would have affected their ability to remain employed as pilots.

“The FAA needs to hear our concerns,” he said, “and we look forward to sharing them directly with the agency.” AOPA president Mark Baker said, “This is an important win for the aviation community, and we appreciate the FAA’s willingness to step back from its previous position, open discussions with stakeholders and find a better path forward.”