All articles in Sleep Legislation and Policies

United States: House Passes Bill Requiring Formal Rulemaking Before Implementing Pilot Sleep Apnea Policy

Article by Ilyse W. Schuman

 The House of Representatives overwhelming approved a bill (H.R. 3578) that would require the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to use the formal rulemaking process to adopt any new or revised requirement providing for the screening, testing, or treatment of pilots for a sleep disorder.  By the same token, the FAA could institute such a policy for air traffic controllers only if it meets its obligations pursuant to chapter 71 of title 5 of the U.S. Code.

This bill was introduced a day after the FAA announced a new planned policy that would require aviation medical examiners (AMEs) to calculate the Body Mass Index (BMI) – a method for identifying obesity and a measurement that is related to risk of sleep apnea – for every pilot.  Under the terms of the planned policy, pilots with a BMI of 40 or more would need to be evaluated by a physician who is a board-certified sleep specialist, and, if diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, treated before they could be medically certified.

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