The FAA is targeting pilots (and controllers) with a “proposed obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) policy.” Pilots and controllers with a Body Mass Index (calculate yours here) with 40 and higher, will be the initial target.
Federal Air Surgeon Fred Tilton wrote in recent medical bulletin those pilots “will have to be evaluated by a physician who is a board certified sleep specialist.” Those diagnosed with OSA must be treated before they acquire a medical certificate, Tilton wrote.
Tilton’s bulletin continued, “we will gradually expand the testing pool by going to lower BMI measurements until we have identified and assured treatment for every airman with OSA.”
My BMI is 31.6. Thus, I’m obese according to the calculator.
“The FAA has failed to demonstrate the justification for this proposed new policy when it comes to general aviation,” said Rob Hackman, vice president for regulatory affairs for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association. “We object to the FAA’s apparent decision to make this policy without any sort of public comment period. The FAA is already staggering under the load of reviewing tens of thousands of medical applications from pilots working through the agency’s special issuance process. This new policy could add thousands of applications to that process, increasing wait times and delaying the FAA’s handling and issuing of medicals, thus preventing pilots from flying.”
AOPA will reportedly ask the FAA to suspend the implementation of the policy indefinitely because:
- The general aviation accident data does not support the new policy;
- No public comment period was offered;
- The policy will significantly add to the existing FAA medical certification backlog.
I wonder if this is what FAA Administrator Michael Huerta had in mind when he said the FAA and industry must come together? From my perspective, this seems to be a solution seeking a problem.