House Committee moves to slow proposed sleep apnea policy

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congress took the first step Wednesday, Dec. 4, toward slowing the FAA from testing overweight pilots and air traffic controllers for sleep apnea.  The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in the House of Representatives passed a bill requiring the FAA to go through the normal rule-making process. The action is in response to the efforts of FAA’s Air Surgeon Fred Tilton to require medical tests for sleep disorders.

Tilton’s actions for a policy change came in late November, saying overweight pilots and controllers could lose sleep resulting in poor performance of their work. The air surgeon’s proposal was almost immediately challenged by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and other general aviation groups. It was praised, however, by the Airline Pilots Association.

The legislation would require the FAA to go through the normal process of inviting and reacting to public comments relating to a rule change. Included would be hearing from medical experts.

The bill must next be acted on by the full House. Also the Senate must approve the bill and then it must be signed by the President. Action by these two is not yet known.


  1. Dutch says

    It is hard to believe this sudden predictive medicine effort is not part of a political agenda in public health directed from on high. Notice the good Doc Tilton said in his message to AMEs that Air Traffic Control personnel would be included when they finalize “…some logistical details…” That means they must negotiate with the federal Unions and figure out how to pay for the testing of more than 15,000 ATC personnel not counting the contract towers. Likely $53M bucks which shouldn’t be a problem for this administration. I flew with a fella for years that had OSA recognized by his spouse who was a nurse. He smoked like a chimney. Died at 82. Finally, there has never been an accident where OSA was a identified as a causal factor in the probable cause.

  2. SuperMom says

    “It was praised, however, by the Airline Pilots Association.” This, of course, if proof that a ‘divide and conquer’ approach to pilot restrictions will be workable. And underscores the level of ignorance by those who are making the rules.
    In GA, it is a common saying that you worry about saving yourself (and any passengers) in an emergency (and let’s admit, many of them are pilot-created) because “the plane just became the property of the insurance company”.
    In commercial aviation, the saying is “save the plane at all costs, pilots are replaceable”.
    Of COURSE, the pilots’ unions are going to watch out for their own membership. They have been trying to get full recognition of flight crew fatigue for years. Like any other reasonable excuse, however, this one gets abused, which leads to a public perception of either drunkenness or laziness.
    You don’t have to be a commercial pilot to have some fellow feeling for those folks.
    Just book a trip for one day. Make sure that your trip includes the maximum of 14 hours flying, including stops, at least 2-3 take-offs and landings, and at least one truly annoying seatmate.
    After 6-8 hours sleep in a strange bed, recite some times tables to the hotel clerk. Maybe she can tell you where you are wrong. You may need to bring your calculator.

  3. Rich says

    They don’t care about the real cause.
    They want little airplanes out of the airliner’s way and this will be one small step to do that.
    Remember this, for now, is just for us fatties.
    He wants to eventually let this expensive test creep into ALL pilot medical exams.
    Divide and conquer.
    Brought to you by the FAA.
    Federation to Abolish Aviation.

  4. Mooney says

    Does our Congress have a clue as to the cause of aircraft accidents. It is not medical, it is the lack of refined flying skills. Soemeone needs to get through to Congress and to the FAA that medical conditioning is not the driver behind aviation accidents. Given the choice of $1,500 for medcial testing vs. $300 for two hours of dual instruction in sharpening flying skills in lieu of a medical certification for GA private pilots, the lower cost alternative will reduce GA accidents. Why does our government insist that paying more gives you better results? How about the AirFrance Airbus that was flown in a stall condition all the way to the surface. Boy, their medicals saved the day! A couple of hours of dual instruction without George would have been worth far more to the crew, the passengers and to aviation than their medical certification. Well, then again, maybe they went to sleep at the wheel. A sad commentary.

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