H.R. 3578: To ensure that any new or revised requirement providing for the screening, testing, or treatment of an airman or an air traffic controller for a sleep disorder is adopted pursuant to a rulemaking proceeding, and for other purposes

H.R. 3578

To ensure that any new or revised requirement providing for the screening, testing, or treatment of an airman or an air traffic controller for a sleep disorder is adopted pursuant to a rulemaking proceeding, and for other purposes

Date
February 11, 2014 (113th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, February 11, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 3578, a bill to ensure that any new or revised requirement providing for the screening, testing, or treatment of an airman or an air traffic controller for a sleep disorder is adopted pursuant to a rulemaking proceeding, and for other purposes,under a suspension of the rules.  The bill was introduced on November 21, 2013 by Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) and referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, which reported the bill, as amended, by voice vote.

Bill Summary

H.R. 3578 directs the Secretary of Transportation to use an open and transparent process to evaluate the costs and benefits, consider the views of affected stakeholders, and review alternative approaches to new FAA rules regarding the testing, screening, and treatment of pilots and air traffic controllers for a sleep disorder.  This legislation requires that these new approaches be adopted pursuant to a rulemaking process for pilots and in accordance with Federal labor laws for controllers, and be consistent with medical standards and practices.

Background

“In November 2013, the FAA announced a change to its medical certification policy, which was originally scheduled to be implemented in January 2014.”[1]  This significant and potentially costly policy change was announced without input from the regulated community.  Currently, the FAA requires that pilots and air traffic controllers be medically certified.[2]  Individuals who are determined to be physically unfit for activity are legally prohibited from carrying out the functions of a pilot or air traffic controller.  In the case of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a pilot is permanently “grounded” and is required to obtain a “Special Issuance” medical certificate in order to resume operation of aircraft.[3]  The FAA is responsible for making final decisions on Special Issuances.  The new FAA policy would change the process for diagnosing OSA by requiring all pilots with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or more to receive additional screening and be evaluated by a board-certified sleep specialist.[4]  The FAA also announced plans to apply these requirements to air traffic controllers and pilots with a lower BMI in the future.[5]



[1] See House Report 113-343, p. 2.

[2] Id. at 2.

[3] Id. at 2.

[4] Id. at 3.

[5] Id. at 3.

Cost

CBO estimates that any federal spending to pursue required rulemakings under the bill would not exceed $500,000 in any given year or over five years.  Such spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated funds, and enacting this legislation would not affect direct spending or revenues.[1]

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.