Aviation Groups Call on Senate To Pass Sleep Apnea Bill

 - March 6, 2014, 2:31 PM

NBAA joined a coalition of aviation groups this week in calling for the Senate to pass legislation that would require the FAA to get industry input before implementing mandatory testing of pilots and air traffic controllers for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) before receiving a medical certificate. The U.S. House of Representatives passed an identical bill on February 11 by voice vote.

“As aviation community stakeholders, we are writing to express our support for S.1941, common-sense bipartisan legislation to address the sweeping [FAA] proposal to change the policy on sleep apnea for pilots and air traffic controllers without the benefit of a rulemaking process,” the coalition told senators in a letter sent on Tuesday. “Further, we wish to express our collective hope that passing this important bill in a timely fashion will be a priority for the U.S. Senate in the coming weeks.”

In November, the FAA announced a plan mandating OSA screening for pilots and ATC personnel with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater. Agency officials later indicated that the screening requirement would ultimately apply to more pilots, regardless of the class of medical certificate or the type of operation in which they fly.

The proposal alarmed the aviation organizations because the FAA “appeared to have made its plans without taking input from industry stakeholders,” NBAA said.