November 20, 2013 - EAA's Chairman Jack Pelton, along with EAA Aeromedical Advisory Council Chairman Dr. Stephen Leonard, today sent a strongly worded letter to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta detailing EAA's strenuous objection to the sleep apnea testing policy announced in the current Federal Air Surgeon's Medical Bulletin.
The policy outlined by Dr. Fred Tilton, the federal air surgeon, mandates testing for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) for all FAA medical certificate applicants with a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40 and a neck size greater than 17 inches. However, the air surgeon made it clear that those mandate minimums were only a starting point, noting, "Once we have appropriately dealt with every airman examinee who has a BMI of 40 or greater, we will gradually expand the testing pool by going to lower BMI measurements until we have identified and assured treatment for every airman with OSA."
Pelton and Leonard, with concurrence from the entire EAA Aeromedical Advisory Council composed of experienced aviation medical examiners, wrote that the policy announcement was "most surprising and distressing because there is little or no evidence of aviation safety having been compromised by sleep apnea" and that EAA strongly objects to speculative testing that would "subject every airman who might be at risk of having sleep apnea, even in the complete absence of clinical evidence, to a minimum $3,500 worth of testing and evaluation."
"FAA's charge is to protect the flying public, not to practice predictive medicine or further public health policy," EAA's letter stated.