Flight Surgeon’s Sleep Apnea “Policy” is attacked by the Doctors who would implement it

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Article: AMEs object to sleep apnea policy

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It is not going well for the Flight Surgeon’s attempt to establish a policy requiring overweight pilots to get sleep apnea counseling as a precondition to receiving their medical. NBAA convinced Congress to file a bill blocking such an action and AOPA made some cogent arguments that the “Policy” violated the Administrative Procedure Act.

Now the Civil Aviation Medical Association, an organization composed of medical professionals whose expertise is aviation, has submitted a letter , which lists a number of substantive objections to the proposed action. Perhaps most telling are the points made in the following quote:

· No scientific body of evidence has demonstrated that undiagnosed obesity or OSA has compromised aviation safety

· Although obesity is a national health issue that should be addressed, unified educational efforts are likely to be far more successful than regulatory measures

….

· There is a critical shortage of accredited sleep centers and board certified sleep medicine specialists, presenting formidable quality assurance challenges for a national policy

· Sleep studies are costly, and specialists asked to render opinions potentially affecting aviation safety will likely order expensive, two-night studies as opposed to less costly home studies.

· A cost-benefit analysis of the economic and regulatory burden on the pilot population should be essential to a proposed policy that would further hinder general aviation CAMA supports the development of a multilateral, unified educational initiative

Those are exactly the sort of excellent comments that one would expect to be submitted in an NPRM process. Perhaps the Flight Surgeon and the FAA Chief Counsel should start at square one and open a docket in which the public can submit responses to this proposal?

In any event there might be constitutional objections to compelling a pilot or controller to wear the device shown in the picture at the head of this post—cruel and unusual punishment?

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