Following up on Flying magazine’s denunciation of the FAA’s proposed new sleep apnea policy, the EAA and AOPA have both weighed in with strong opposition to the rule, which requires Aviation Medical Examiners to refer high-BMI pilots to sleep specialists for further evaluation. The new rule was recently announced by federal air surgeon Dr. Fred Tilton in the Federal Air Surgeon’s Medical Bulletin. The policy was implemented without any opportunity for public comment.
Leaders of both organizations wrote letters to FAA administrator Michael Huerta stating the new rule appears to have no safety benefit while imposing unjustified costs for pilots.
The letter signed by Jack Pelton, EAA’s chairman, and Dr. Stephen Leonard, chairman, EAA Aeromedical Advisory Council, said “we are unaware of any studies where sleep apnea was identified as a primary cause of any aircraft accident.” The letter also referenced a similar rule that the government has attempted to implement in the maritime and commercial trucking world. “No one would dare require that all overweight drivers of personal motor vehicles or watercraft undergo thousands of dollars worth of testing and evaluation.”
The letter estimates the cost of the required testing and evaluation would reach a minimum of $3,500 per pilot.
AOPA’s president and CEO Mark Baker also said in his letter that no general aviation accidents have resulted from sleep apnea. “Any effort to improve general aviation safety must be data driven, and the available data simply do not support the need for this new OSA policy for general aviation,” Baker said.
As it stands, the rule would affect a large number of pilots. Baker’s letter stated that the FAA identified 124,973 pilots as obese in 2011.
Read more at http://www.flyingmag.com/news/eaa-aopa-condemn-sleep-apnea-rule#Vmc8vfsZEldufOTs.99