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House Bill Would Require Formal Rulemaking Before Enacting Apnea Policy

November 21, 2013 - Acting swiftly on the heels of major opposition to a recently announced FAA aeromedical policy on obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a bipartisan bill was introduced today in the House of Representatives that would require the measure to undergo a formal rulemaking process with an opportunity for public comment before being implemented.

The bill is sponsored by Reps. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) and Rick Larsen (D-WA), chairman and ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Aviation, along with Reps. Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), and Sam Graves (R-MO).

The proposed sleep apnea policy, announced by Federal Air Surgeon Dr. Fred Tilton, would initially require all pilots with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater and a neck size of 17 inches or greater to undergo screening for sleep apnea prior to certification. Dr. Tilton also indicated a plan to expand the program until "we have identified and assured treatment for every airman with OSA."

EAA strongly supports the bill and urges its quick passage. A measure subjecting a similar rule in the commercial trucking industry to rulemaking passed both chambers unanimously and was signed into law last month.

"Any policy this sweeping and potentially costly to our community must require input from all stakeholders before it is enacted," said Sean Elliott, EAA vice president of advocacy and safety. "We have consulted with highly knowledgeable and respected doctors on our Aeromedical Advisory Council and the message is clear: This is bad policy. We will continue to fight it on all fronts."

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