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FAA Medical Certification | Obesity & OSA
Obesity & Obstructive Sleep Apnea
|In February 2015
the FAA issued guidance
to Aviation Medical Examiners in which is likely to increase denials,
Special Issuance for Obstructive Sleep
Apnea (OSA). OSA is a condition which often interrupts breathing
during sleeping hours and can result in incapacitation during the daytime.
In November 2013, the FAA proposed guidance to Aviation Medical Examiners that would have grounded pilots with a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more until they successfully completed treatment and obtained a Special Issuance medical certification from the FAA. The FAA concluded that OSA is almost always found in obese individuals who have a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 40 and a neck circumference of 17 inches or more.
Aviation Medical Examiners have
become more attentive to signs and symptoms of sleep
disorders and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. This will increasingly
delay or disqualify pilots.
If the pilot is considered fit to fly by their treating physician, the pilot may continue flying during the evaluation / treatment period. Pilots diagnosed with OSA and undergoing successful treatment should present documentation of effective treatment to the FAA as soon as possible to avoid a lapse in FAA medical certification.
While the FAA has revised the screening approach to help AMEs find undiagnosed and untreated OSA, untreated OSA will continue to be a generally disqualifying medical condition requiring a Special Issuance medical certificate. AMEs are advised by the FAA to be alert for OSA and other sleep-related disorders such as insomnia, restless leg-syndrome, and neuromuscular or connective tissue disorders, because they could be signs of problems that could interfere with restorative sleep, which are needed for pilots to safely perform their duties.
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