FAA Delays Sleep Apnea Rule

Agency agrees to take another look at controversial policy.

Sleep Apnea Mask Rachel Tayse

Sleep Apnea Mask Rachel Tayse

** Photo by Rachel Tayse/Flickr**

First it was happening, then it was delayed, then it was happening again, and now it's not. The FAA says it will delay implementation of its controversial sleep apnea policy after all, as it gathers additional input from the aviation and medical communities.

The policy, which infuriated overweight pilots by mandating obstructive sleep apnea screening for those with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher, was scheduled to go into effect in January. AOPA, EAA, the National Business Aviation Association and other groups vigorously opposed to the policy, arguing that there was no scientific or safety basis for the mandatory screening, which reportedly could cost individual pilots up to $5,000 for testing.

Congress also stepped in with a bill that would require the FAA to adhere to the normal rulemaking process before the policy was implemented. FAA Federal Air Surgeon Dr. Fred Tilton initially said he would instruct Aviation Medical Examiners to implement the plan starting next month in spite of the bill before the agency announced the delay.

AOPA President Mark Baker called the FAA decision "an important win for the aviation community" and also pledged to get involved in the process. "We look forward to collaborating with the FAA to resolve their safety concerns in a way that makes sense."

Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.

We welcome your comments on flyingmag.com. In order to maintain a respectful environment, we ask that all comments be on-topic, respectful and spam-free. All comments made here are public and may be republished by Flying.