2013 Press Releases

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NBAA Welcomes FAA's Delay on Sleep-Apnea Policy Pending Industry Input

Contact: Dan Hubbard, (202) 783-9360, dhubbard@nbaa.org

Washington, DC, Dec. 19, 2013 – The National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) today welcomed the decision by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to delay its plans for implementing a controversial new policy for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) screening for pilots until the agency has had an opportunity to hear from industry stakeholders on the matter.

"We have learned that, shortly after the new year gets underway, the FAA will bring together organizations, including NBAA, to discuss the sleep apnea issue, and hear the significant concerns we have with the agency's plans," said NBAA President and CEO Ed Bolen. "We think that’s an appropriate step, because in business aviation, flying is often how a person makes a living, and the agency's screening plans would have a significant impact on many of those professionals. The FAA needs to hear our concerns, and we look forward to sharing them directly with the agency."

In November, Federal Air Surgeon Dr. Frederick Tilton announced in a newsletter his plans  for "releasing shortly" a policy requiring that pilots with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater undergo OSA screening prior to receiving a medical certificate.

Shortly after Tilton's announcement, it was 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. The FAA has suggested that this policy would eventually apply to additional pilots, regardless of the class of medical certificate, or the type of operation in which the pilot flies.

Within weeks after the FAA's announcement, House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-2-NJ) introduced a bill (H.R.3578), which would compel the FAA to consult with industry through the established rulemaking process before issuing any OSA requirement. NBAA welcomed that legislation, and detailed the industry's concerns about the FAA’s OSA-screening plans in a Dec. 3 letter Bolen sent to the full House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. Read NBAA's letter to the House Transportation Committee regarding the FAA's planned OSA policy.

On Dec. 4, the committee approved LoBiondo’s bill, and it now awaits consideration by the full House of Representatives. Following the committee’s passage of the legislation, Bolen said: "We thank the co-sponsors of H.R.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. 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."

In recent weeks, NBAA has also encouraged Association members to utilize NBAA's online Contact Congress resource, to make their voices heard on the FAA's proposed policy change. Review the letter NBAA Members can send to their congressional representatives regarding the FAA's planned OSA policy.

Visit NBAA's website for more information regarding the association's work to represent the business aviation community on the FAA’s OSA-screening proposal.

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Founded in 1947 and based in Washington, DC, the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) is the leading organization for companies that rely on general aviation aircraft to help make their businesses more efficient, productive and successful. The Association represents more than 10,000 companies and provides more than 100 products and services to the business aviation community, including the NBAA Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition, the world's largest civil aviation trade show. Learn more about NBAA at www.nbaa.org.

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