In legislation that mirrors a recent victory by the trucking industry, the House of Representatives passed HR 3578, legislation to compel the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to follow the rulemaking process (instead of guidelines which are easier to establish) before implementing any mandatory pilot-screening requirement for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) as a condition for earning a medical certificate.
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) celebrated the victory, with president and CEO Ed Bollen declaring on that: “The business aviation community thanks lawmakers for passing this measure seeking a fully transparent process for any consideration of OSA screening, including a mechanism for those in the industry – who have the most at stake from proposed regulatory action – to provide input on the matter. While sleep apnea is certainly an important health concern, it’s important that the agency weigh all factors on the issue, including analysis of data-driven justification, costs, benefits and other important criteria.”
Sponsored by House aviation subcommittee chairman Rep Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) and ranking aviation subcommittee member Rep Rick Larsen (D-WA), the legislation passed by a voice vote. Companion legislation (S 1941) was introduced in the Senate last month by Sens Joe Manchin (D-WV) and James Inhofe (R-OK), members of the Senate General Aviation (GA) Caucus.
According to www.aviationpros.com, the legislation comes in response to the FAA’s 2013 plan to begin requiring OSA screening for pilots with a body mass index of 40 or greater. Agency officials suggested that the screening requirement would ultimately apply to additional pilots, regardless of the class of medical certificate, or the type of operation in which the pilot flies.