House Moves on Sleep Apnea Rule

House committee approves bill requiring rulemaking process.

The U.S. House of Representatives is moving quickly to address a recent rule imposed by the FAA that would require pilots with a body mass index of 40 or greater to undergo sleep apnea evaluation and possible treatment. The House Transportation Committee has approved a recently drafted bill, which suggested legislation addressing the new rule. According to the National Business Aviation Association, the bill in support of pilots’ rights, H.R. 3578, was introduced by Representative Frank LoBiondo, chairman of the Transportation Committee’s Aviation Subcommittee and co-sponsored by six bipartisan representatives.

The bill requires that any rule such as the sleep apnea policy, which requires screening, testing or treatment of pilots, would have to go through the regular FAA rulemaking process. “As the FAA considers unilateral implementation of a policy of this magnitude,” NBAA’s president and CEO Ed Bolen said, “the proposal should be subject to transparency, in part through commentary from affected parties, as well as analysis of its data-driven justification, costs, benefits and other important criteria.”

The sleep apnea policy was implemented in the absence of such a process and suddenly announced in the FAA’s Federal Air Surgeon’s Medical Bulletin in November.

H.R. 3578 will now proceed for a vote in the full House of Representatives.

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