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Thread: Sorry, you're too fat to be a pilot. Love, FAA

  1. #1

    Sorry, you're too fat to be a pilot. Love, FAA

    Hey folks, just read on Avweb that the FAA will soon deny medicals to people who are obese. If you have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 40 or greater and a neck 17 inches or greater in circumference you are assumed to have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and therefore disqualified. If you exceed the BMI and neck circumference values you must go to a doctor that is a board certified sleep specialist to either prove you don't have OSA or get treated. This applies to both pilots and controllers. Eventually the criteria will be lowered to affect all those with a BMI of 30 or greater. I'm curious to see what, if any, evidence they produce that shows that the above criteria decreases the overall safety of the national airspace system. I've read many accident reports over the years but don't recall obesity or sleep apnea being listed as a cause or contributing factor. Here is a link to the Federal Air Surgeon's medical bulletin introducing the concept: http://www.faa.gov/other_visit/aviat...dia/201304.pdf

  2. #2
    EAA Staff / Moderator Hal Bryan's Avatar
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    We are fully aware of this, and are working with AOPA on this sudden and unjustified policy shift. You'll be hearing more from us, hopefully tomorrow - keep an eye on http://www.eaa.org.

    Hal Bryan
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    Online Community Manager
    EAA—The Spirit of Aviation

  3. #3

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    Don't forget the tongue measurements. An overly long tongue is also a medical barrier to obtaining a pilot's license according to the notice.

    We're looking at you, Gene Simmons.

    Somebody ask me again why I chose to be a Sport Pilot even though there's nothing physically wrong with me and how I've short changed myself as an aviator. Please.
    The opinions and statements of this poster are largely based on facts and portray a possible version of the actual events.

  4. #4
    zaitcev's Avatar
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    Being tall I noticed long ago how bogus BMI formula becomes once you hit 6 ft. My BMI is 27.3 and I am as skinny as you can get. It's ridiculous.

  5. #5
    Mike Switzer's Avatar
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    Physical trainers have been saying for years that BMI is flawed. When I was in college & lifting weight we used to strap weights to our heads & do exercises to make our necks bigger. I haven't worn a 17" collar since sometime early in high school.

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    I know very little about the topic but a quick search came up with the info that the US average is 27.something and the statement, from Wikipedia, that seems to make sense to this engineer

    "The medical establishment has acknowledged major shortcomings of BMI.[26] Because the BMI depends upon weight and the square of height, it ignores basic scaling laws whereby mass increases to the 3rd power of linear dimensions. Hence, larger individuals, even if they had exactly the same body shape and relative composition, always have a larger BMI."

    Given the amount of medical research that goes on, I am actually pretty surprised that a better formula that takes into account the issue in the quote has not been developed. This looks like a fatal flaw if the calculation is to be applied to individuals for regulatory purposes rather than to populations for general estimates.

    I see that both EAA and AOPA are against this policy.

    Best of luck,

    Wes

  7. #7
    s10sakota's Avatar
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    Come on guys you all forgot one very important detail! Don't you know........ The gov't knows best! HAHAHA
    Mark

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  8. #8
    EAA Staff / Moderator Hal Bryan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hal Bryan View Post
    We are fully aware of this, and are working with AOPA on this sudden and unjustified policy shift. You'll be hearing more from us, hopefully tomorrow - keep an eye on http://www.eaa.org.

    Here's our first published response:

    http://www.eaa.org/news/2013/2013-11...-precedent.asp

    Full text:

    November 19, 2013 - EAA is joining other general aviation organizations urging an immediate and indefinite hold on the FAA's just-announced aeromedical guidelines on sleep apnea.

    The protocol, announced by Federal Air Surgeon Dr. Fred Tilton, would initially require all applicants with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or greater and a neck size of 17 inches or greater to be evaluated by a sleep specialist prior to receiving a medical certificate. Those who are diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) would need to be treated prior to issuance. Dr. Tilton noted that OSA is "almost universal" among this group.


    "The FAA has not presented nor have we seen any evidence of aeronautical hazards or threats based on sleep apnea in general aviation," said Sean Elliott, EAA's vice president of advocacy and safety. "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."


    Elliott also notes that while this newly announced FAA policy is clearly unjustified, a greater threat looms in subsequent plans outlined by Dr. Tilton, that "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."


    The Pilot's Bill of Rights passed by Congress and signed by the president in 2012 required that the FAA thoroughly evaluate the medical certification process and supply medical science and justification to support its policies. Any sleep apnea requirements or policy should also meet this requirement. To date, the FAA has not undertaken such an evaluation.


    "We are joining in the call for an immediate suspension of this policy and thorough review of its need and justification," Elliott said. "There has been no evidence of sleep apnea as a cause or factor in more than a decade of general aviation accidents reviewed by FAA's own General Aviation Joint Steering Committee, in which EAA participated."


    The new policy grew out of a 2009 NTSB recommendation that the FAA change the airman medical application to include questions about any previous diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea as well as the presence of risk factors for the disorder. The recommendation also asked the FAA to implement a program to require pilots at high risk for obstructive sleep apnea to be evaluated and, if needed, treated before being granted medical certification.


    EAA, in consultation with the Aeromedical Advisory Council composed of aviation medical examiners, will be sending specific recommendations to the FAA in the days ahead. EAA is also carrying opposition to lawmakers on Capitol Hill who have already called for a review and evaluation of the aeromedical process under the Pilot's Bill of Rights.

    Hal Bryan
    EAA #638979
    Online Community Manager
    EAA—The Spirit of Aviation

  9. #9
    Jim Hann's Avatar
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    Thank you EAA.
    Jim Hann
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    TedK's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Hann View Post
    Thank you EAA.

    +1

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