Will the recent Germanwings Flight 9525 tragedy alter requirements for psychological or psychiatric screening by AMEs?

"In the air transport business more than any other, the human element is everything. That big plane in front of the hangar is only as good as the man who flies it, and he is only as good as the people on the ground who work with him."

W. A. (Pat) Patterson, President United Airlines, quoted in the book 'High Horizons,' 1944.

FAA Polling Union Pilots Regarding Sleep Apnea Treatment and CPAP Use
Airline pilots from the Allied Pilots Association received electronic mail from their union stating that the FAA was collecting data to determine the number of pilots currently receiving treatment for sleep apnea.  
New screening requirements began the week of March 2 asked Aviation Medical Examiners to perform thorough assessments for sleep-related disordered breathing and indicate if the airman was already diagnosed with sleep apnea or was at risk for sleep apnea based upon their physical examination or other information obtained. The new requirements on AMEs included:
  • No disqualification of pilots based on BMI alone. The risk of OSA is determined by an integrated assessment of history, symptoms, and physical/clinical findings. BMI is now automatically calculated for the AME when the height and weight measurements are entered into the MedXPress system while completing the Form 8500-8.
  • The OSA screening process must be completed by the AME using the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) guidelines.
  • Documentation of the OSA screening can be provided by the AME simply by checking the appropriate block while completing the airman’s Form 8500-8.
  • Pilots determined to be at significant OSA risk will be issued a medical certificate and referred for an evaluation.
  • OSA evaluations may be completed by any physician (including the AME), not just sleep specialists, using the American Academy of Sleep Medicine’s guidance.
  • Evaluations do not require a laboratory sleep study or even a home study if the evaluating physician determines the airman does not require it.
  • Results of the evaluations can be given to the AME, forwarded to the Aerospace Medical Certification Division (AMCD), or sent to the Regional Flight Surgeon’s (RFS’s) office within 90 days of the FAA exam to satisfy the evaluation requirement. The pilot continues to fly during this period.
  • If the pilot needs additional time beyond 90 days to complete the evaluation, a 30-day extension will be granted by the AMCD or the RFS upon request.
  • Pilots diagnosed with OSA can send documentation of effective treatment to the AMCD or the RFS’s office in order to receive consideration for a Special Issuance medical certificate.
  • The FAA will send the pilot a Special Issuance letter documenting the follow-up tests required and timing of the reports.
  • Most follow-up reports will only require usage data from the CPAP machine and a brief statement from a physician.


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  • half of physicians engaged in the practice of aviation medicine aims to:

    • To promote the best methodology for assessment of the mental and physical requirements for civil aviation pilots.

    • To actively enlarge our scientific knowledge.
    • To

     on be advocate, through continuing education, both basic and advanced civil aeromedical knowledge.

  • To promote professional fellowship among our colleagues from allied scientific disciplines.
  • To bind together all civil aviation medical examiners into an effective, active medical body to promote aviation safety for the good of the public.