National Business Aviation Association Aims to Enforce “Rulemaking” Process for Sleep Apnea

Taking a page from the trucking industry playbook, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is supporting legislation that would compel the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to follow established “rulemaking” processes for sleep apnea screening of pilots.

The so-called “rulemaking” procedure makes it more difficult for federal entities to establish regulations. According to www.aviationpros.com, NBAA leadership thanked a key U.S. House of Representatives panel for approving legislation that would require the rulemaking processes.

The legislation, HR 3578, was introduced on Nov. 21 by Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R – NJ), chairman of the Transportation Committee’s Aviation Subcommittee. The bill responds to a new policy, first reported in a November 2013 FAA newsletter, that the agency would soon begin subjecting pilots with a body mass index of 40 or greater to OSA screening.

“It was later revealed that the agency would require pilots to bear the significant costs of getting tested for OSA (as much as $5,000, according to some sources), and obtaining the requisite equipment to treat the condition, if necessary,” writes the NBAA. “The FAA has suggested that this policy would eventually apply to all pilots, regardless of the class of medical certificate or the operation in which the pilot flies.”

LoBiondo’s bill seeks to ensure “that any new or revised requirement providing for the screening, testing, or treatment of an airman…is adopted pursuant to a rulemaking proceeding.” With the approval by the House Transportation Committee, the bill now moves to consideration by the full House of Representatives.

“We thank the co-sponsors of HR 3578, and all the members of the full committee, for their prompt, bipartisan action on this matter, and we look forward to prompt passage of the bill by the full House,” said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. “As the FAA considers unilateral implementation of a policy of this magnitude, 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. This bill will ensure that these important considerations are made before the proposed OSA requirement is allowed to take effect.”

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