Aviation and Fatigue Management

FusionHealth® offers unique treatment programs to help with fatigue management.

Aviation is a Safety Critical BusinessUnacceptable Risk

Untreated sleep disorders in Commercial Pilots and Airtraffic Controllers are known to have triggered deadly mistakes linked to serious accidents in aviation and other forms of transit.

Current Regulations

Federal Aviation AdministrationCurrent FAA regulations regarding sleep disorders in commercial pilots primarily concern the alertness when on duty in the cockpit. Secondary concerns involve the complications and associated symptoms of Sleep Apnea, such as memory and concentration impairment, heart arrhythmias and other conditions that may cause subtle or sudden incapacitation when flying an aircraft.

The current policy outlined in the FAA Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners, states that any degree of sleep apnea is disqualifying for all classes of medical certifications. The examiners do not have the authority to grant an initial waiver for medical certification for pilots with sleep apnea.

However, FAA Guide does allow pilots diagnosed with sleep apnea may be granted medical certification under the Special Issuance provisions of 14 CFR 67.401.

The FAA Protocol for Evaluation of Sleep Apnea outlines procedures for testing required to support re-certification. The essential elements are a Polysomnogram documenting that the pilot is effectively treated for sleep apnea, along with a clinical narrative clearly indicating that when on treated the pilot did not exhibit evidence of daytime sleepiness. FusionHealth® routinely performs annual status reports and the required testing for re-certifying pilots and controllers.

New Regulations

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued recommendations recently to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regarding pilot fatigue and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). The recommendations were issues after the conclusion of a recent investigation, where two pilots flying from Honolulu to Hilo, Hawaii, in February 2008 fell asleep and flew past the plane’s destination. The pilots traveled an additional 26 miles before waking up and landing safely at their destination.

The NTSB concluded that the captain’s undiagnosed Obstructive Sleep Apnea contributed to the incident along with the crew’s recent work schedules.”

For additional information information refer to the following developing stories, and information from the FAA and NTSB.

NTSB issues final report on ‘sleeping pilots’ case

Transit accidents linked to sleep disorders

Pilots, others not tested for sleep disorders

FAA panel to develop rules on pilot fatigue by September

Letter from the NTSB to the FAA, August 7th 2009