FAA Says Pilot Obesity Threatens Passenger Safety

The FAA says a major change is coming soon to fight pilot sleep apnea caused by obesity.
1:59 | 11/20/13

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Transcript for FAA Says Pilot Obesity Threatens Passenger Safety
Now, to a new ruling coming for airline pilots, perhaps. The faa will soon start targeting obese pilots and air traffic controllers and treating them for possible sleep problems tied to the weight. It's all designed to make all of us who fly safer. And abc's david kerley has the story. Reporter: Obesity. We've called it a national epidemic. Occasionally a problem in an aircraft cabin. In the movie "why did I get married?" I'm sorry, ma'am, someone your size has to buy two seats. Reporter: Actor/director kevin smith, who calls himself way fat, was asked to get off a plane. This morning, the faa is worried about obese pilots because their weight could cause apnea, leaving them tired. Sleep apnea in obese patients is a common condition. And it results in lack of enough sleep or quality sleep. Reporter: That's what happened five years ago, on a go airlines flight between islands in hawaii. Both pilots fell asleep and overshot the runway before waking and landing. The captain was diagnosed with apnea and was obese. This is about passenger safety. It has the same physiological effects as drinking. You don't want a drunk pilot flying an airplane, as you wouldn't want a pilot with enough sleep to fly the airplanes. Reporter: If diagnosed, the pilots will need treatment before being cleared to work. The faa is starting with pilots with a body mass index of 40. But plans to lower that to 30 soon. What does that mean? A six-foot man with a 40 bmi would wear nearly 300 pounds. And 30 bmi, that same man would weigh 220 pounds. This is not just pilots. It's also flight controllers who will be covered down the line on these new guidelines. And, george, this is a major change. And it is coming soon. David, thanks very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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