U.S. Senate Intervenes On FAA’s Proposal On Sleep Apnea-Screening Policy

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On January 16, 2014, Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and James Inhofe (R-OK) introduced a measure (S.1941) to require the FAA to follow the established rulemaking process as the agency seeks to implement its new obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) screening requirement.

Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK), an original co-sponsor of the bill, is a member of the Senate General Aviation Caucus, along with Manchin and Inhofe.

The Senate legislation is similar to a bill (H.R.3578) introduced last November by House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman Frank LoBiondo (R-2-NJ).

Federal Air Surgeon Dr. Fred Tilton attempted to bypass the rule-making process, by declaring that the new requirement was a “process enhancement,” rather than a “policy change,” and therefore did not have to go through the formal rule-making process.

In addition to the introduction of the Senate bill, the FAA held a meeting with aviation stakeholders on January 16 in which agency officials signaled their intention to revise their OSA-screening proposal, accounting for elements of the industry’s concern.

While the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) views the FAA’s apparent readiness to consider revisions to its OSA-screening plan as an initial good step, the organization wants an opportunity to review the details of the revised policy before coming to any conclusions about it. In addition, NBAA will also continue to support the House and Senate legislation on the matter, because those measures speak to the industry’s ongoing concern about the need for industry input through a formal rulemaking process.”

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