December 2013

Experimenter is a magazine created by EAA for people who build airplanes. We will report on amateur-built aircraft as well as ultralights and other light aircraft.

Issue link: http://experimenter.epubxp.com/i/234576

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Page 6 of 40

FAA Sleep Apnea Policy Would Set a Dangerous Precedent Acting swiftly on the heels of major opposition to a recently announced FAA aeromedical policy on obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a bipartisan bill was introduced in the House of Representatives that would require the measure to undergo a formal rulemaking process with an opportunity for public comment before being implemented. EAA joined other general aviation organizations urging an immediate and indefinite hold on the FAA's justannounced 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 OSA would need to be treated prior to issuance. Tilton said 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 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… "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…" The new policy grew out of a 2009 National Transportation Safety Board 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. EAA strongly supports the House bill and urges its quick passage. A measure subjecting a similar rule in the commercial trucking industry to rulemaking passed both chambers unanimously and was signed into law last month. NTSB Supports Less Draconian ECi Cylinder AD The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has filed comments on a proposed AD that would require thousands of ECi cylinders on big-bore Continental engines to be retired from service before the end of their normal life. The NTSB told the FAA that the board has no data to support the proposed requirement that thousands of ECi cylinders with fewer than 500 hours or more than 1,000 hours time in service be removed. The NTSB points out in its comments that the board has investigated and studied the failure history of ECi cylinders for many years. The NTSB issued a safety recommendation in February of this year that ECi cylinders produced between May 2003 and October 2009 be retired once the cylinders reach their normal recommended TBO life. The proposed FAA AD and the NTSB's research divide affected ECi cylinders into two groups based on serial number. The NTSB notes that Group A cylinders are already flying under an ECi mandatory service bulletin that demands repetitive inspections for cracks every 50 flight hours after the cylinder accumulates 500 hours. The NTSB commented that cylinder head cracking in this group of cylinders could cause loss of compression but is unlikely to result in a cylinder head-to-barrel separation. The FAA's proposed AD would affect many more cylinders than NTSB testing and data collection indicates is necessary. Read the full NTSB comments on the proposed ECi AD. Continued on Page 9 EAA Experimenter 7

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