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.