Overweight pilots to be tested for sleep apnea

The Federal Aviation Administration is taking a closer look at overweight airline pilots and air-traffic controllers over concern that loss of sleep could be hurting their work performance.

The FAAâ??s air surgeon Fred Tilton says more details about the policy change will come later this month. The initial information release says medical examiners will calculate the body mass index of each pilot to see if it exceeds 40.

If a pilotâ??s BMI is more than 40, or if their neck is more than 17 inches, that pilot will have to be evaluated by a sleep specialist.

The policy hopes to treat pilots for obstructive sleep apnea, which can lead to daytime sleepiness, high blood pressure, and even death. Pilots can be disqualified from receiving their certificates if this goes untreated.

After all overweight pilots are checked and treated for obstructive sleep apnea, the tests will extend to all pilots.

30% of people with a BMI less than 30 suffer from the problem as well.

Logistical details are still being finalized as to how the program will affect air traffic controllers.