As the Federal Aviation Administration says it will work with stakeholders to find a way to address concerns about undiagnosed sleep disorders in pilots, the US House of Representatives passed a bill that would require the rulemaking process be followed before regulations could be changed regarding screening and treating pilots for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
The measure, sponsored by House aviation subcommittee chairman Rep Frank LoBiondo (R-2-NJ) and ranking aviation subcommittee member Rep Rick Larsen (D-2-WA), passed by a voice vote on February 11. An identical measure, introduced by Sens Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) on January 16, is awaiting vote in the Senate.
“We appreciate the strong bipartisan leadership on this issue in both the House and the Senate,” says Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association president Mark Baker in a release. “We all want pilots to fly safely, and any policy changes should be based on transparency, public comment, and the opportunity to work together to identify more effective and less intrusive solutions.”
The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) also welcomed passage of the bill. “The business aviation community thanks lawmakers for passing this measure seeking a fully transparent process for any consideration of OSA screening, including a mechanism for those in the industry–who have the most at stake from proposed regulatory action–to provide input on the matter,” says NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen in a release. “While sleep apnea is certainly an important health concern, it’s important that the agency weigh all factors on the issue, including analysis of data-driven justification, costs, benefits, and other important criteria.”