NPR : News

Filed Under:

FAA Orders Apnea Testing For Overweight Pilots, Controllers

U.S. pilots and air traffic controllers who are deemed overweight will be screened for obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, a condition that could cause them fatigue on the job, endangering the lives of air passengers, a new FAA order says.

In a recent memo, the Federal Aviation Administration's chief medical officer, Dr. Fred Tilton, has ordered physicians to calculate the body mass index of pilots and controllers. Anyone with a BMI of 40 or above will need to be evaluated by a sleep specialist.

"OSA inhibits restorative sleep, and it has significant safety implications because it can cause excessive daytime sleepiness, cognitive impairment, cardiac dysrhythmias, sudden cardiac death, personality disturbances, and hypertension, to cite just a few," Tilton wrote.

"Untreated OSA is a disqualifying condition for airmen and air traffic control specialists (ATCSs), and it is a concern for the other modes of the Department of Transportation. It has also been a hot issue at the National Transportation Safety Board for several years," he said.

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said in a statement: "The updated sleep apnea guidelines that we plan to implement are designed to help airmen and aviation safety by improving the diagnosis of unrecognized or untreated obstructive sleep apnea."

The Experimental Aircraft Association, or EAA, has expressed strong objection to the policy shift:

"The FAA has not presented nor have we seen any evidence of aeronautical hazards or threats based on sleep apnea in general aviation," Sean Elliott, EAA's vice president of advocacy and safety, said in a statement. "To enter into the realm of predictive medicine based on no safety threat or symptoms — at a significant cost to individual aviators and the GA community — is not only a reach beyond FAA's mission but a serious hurdle to those who enjoy recreational aviation. The FAA's special issuance process would also be overwhelmed by this unneeded policy, creating even further delays and bureaucracy."

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Peruvians Love Their Chicha Street Art. The Government ... Not So Much

Walk down a street in Peru and you'll likely see an example of the glow-in-the-dark posters and murals. Lots of people love them. But the upper crust — and the government — aren't impressed.
NPR

Tea-Infused Sweets: Chocolate + Jasmine Tea Is A Match Made In Heaven

Smoky and floral brews can provide a kick of flavor to desserts, especially when blended with chocolate. Pastry chef Naomi Gallego shows us a few tricks for surprising the palate with tea.
WAMU 88.5

America's First Ladies

They walk a tricky line: closest adviser to the President of the United States and hostess in chief. A new book examines the evolution of the role of first lady of the United States.

WAMU 88.5

E-Cigarettes and Vaping

Last week, the D.C. Council voted to designate e-cigarettes and "similar vapor products containing nicotine" as tobacco products. That means that their sales tax will jump from the regular 5.75% sales tax to the 70% tax that's tacked onto sales of products like cigarettes and cigars. We explore what this means for the evolving public health debate surrounding e-cigarettes.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.