• Proposed Rule on Portable Oxygen Concentrators by the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA)
  • We have some important information for all of you from Mr. Gary Ewart (ATS lobbyist) and members of the US COPD Coalition Policy Subcommittee working on the Congressional COPD Caucus regarding FAA rules on Portable Oxygen Concentrators. Your comments are requested by August 13, though there have been many requests to have this extended to October 14th. A copy of the FAA ruling and this material will be posted on the US COPD Coalition Website at http://www.uscopd.org and also on the PERF Website. We apologize for getting this information to you so late. If you subscribe to eNews we will see that you get the information in a timely manner.
  • Great news! On Wednesday, July 14, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published a proposed rule that would create a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) to allow portable oxygen concentrators on civil airplanes. Portable oxygen concentrators work by the same principle as their larger cousin, the stationary concentrator, extracting oxygen directly out of the air. Portable oxygen concentrators have fairly high electricity consumption and must run either off batteries or must be plugged in to a wall or automobile socket. These devices are perceived as posing a lower aviation risk than either oxygen tanks or liquid oxygen. While there are still issues that need to be discussed, the publication of the rule represents a big step forward for patients using supplemental oxygen. The US COPD Coalition should feel pleased about its efforts to get FAA to move on this issue. The FAA is seeking public comment on the proposal. The deadline for public comments is Friday, August 13, 2004.
  • From: Mr. Gary Ewart (ATS)
    TO: US COPD Coalition
    Subject: FAA Proposed Rule on Portable Oxygen Concentrators (POC)
    DATE: 7/15/04
  • The proposed rule.
  • In general the rule would allow the use of Portable Oxygen Concentrators (POCs) under the following conditions
  • 1.the POC does not interfere with airplane electrical, navigational or communication equipment
    2.the POC must be turned off when the cannula is not in use
    3.the POC user or traveling companion, must be able to hear and see all warning indicators and respond appropriately
    4.the POC cannot be operated within 10 feet of an open flame or burning cigarette
    5.the POC intake filter must not be blocked
    6.the POC must be stowed under the seat in front or in other secure location
    7.patrons using the POC cannot be seated in the emergency exit row
    8.the POC must be free from petroleum, grease and oil and be in good working order
    9.the POC must be meet filter maintenance requirements (filters to be manufactured maintenance every 3000 hours of use)
    10.the pilot of the flight must be informed of the POC on flight
    11.the POC user must have physician statement the specifies the use of and oxygen flow rate
    12.only lotions and salves approved for use with oxygen can be used by the POC user
    13.the POC user must have enough batteries to power the device through the flight duration and additional "reasonable or anticipated delays."
  • As written, the draft rule applies only to the AirSep LifeStyle portable oxygen concentrator. However the rule states that the Inogen product is under review. The rule essentially creates a pathway for other products to be reviewed and approved under the SFAR.
  • The FAA is seeking public input on the following questions:
  • 1.Should the aircraft operator be required to inform the user about the availability of electrical outlets suitable for the portable oxygen concentrator?
    2.Should the user be required to carry batteries for the duration of the flight including reasonable delays if there are electrical outlets available on the flight?
    3.Are the meanings of the terms ''anticipated delay'' and ''reasonable delay'' sufficiently clear?
  • There are additional issues that I would recommend the community consider commenting on, including:
  • 1.Should air carriers be required to allow POCs on civil air travel? As drafted the rule allows air carrier to use POCs on board. The rule does not require air carriers to allow travelers to use POCs.
    2.Should FAA issue a blanket ruling on the POCs and their impact on airplane electronic, communications and navigational systems? As drafted, the POCs are still required to be tested on a model by model basis for all airplanes
    3.Should passengers traveling with POCs have priority access to on board power sources?
  • In a related rulemaking under the Air Carrier Access Act, the Department will seek comment on whether carriers must permit users of AirSep portable oxygen concentrator to plug their devices into available onboard power outlets, consistent with FAA safety rules related to electronic devices.
  • I welcome your input on the proposed rule. While there are still issues that need to be resolved, this rule (and the expected rule from the Department of Transportation) represents a significant improvement in the travel options for patients using supplemental oxygen. This rule would not have happened were it not for the sustained advocacy of patient and provider community on this issue.
  • Since this document was published on the Internet, many thoughtful critiques have been written. The detailed critiques of oxygen users who travel often, and know first hand the problems of flying with oxygen, were especially impressive. We wish we had room to publish some of them in detail. And we hope the deadline for discussion is extended until October 14th so that all of their concerns are addressed. Watch for next month's newsletter for further developments.

  • Save this date! Saturday, October 2, 2004
  • Join us at an outstanding free educational event at the Hilton Carson Plaza Hotel in Carson, California, right off the 405 San Diego Freeway.
  • The Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center will present COPD/Alpha-1 Education Day from 8:30AM - 4::00 PM. There will be 2 separate tracks: one for patients and one for physicians and other health care providers who may also receive CEU's for the lectures attended. Come and listen to lectures by authoritative speakers who will present up-to-date information on the diagnosis and care of COPD and Alpha-1 patients. Free box lunches and coffee breaks will be provided as you cruise the many exhibits. The full program with the confirmed list of speakers will be ready soon. Rich Casaburi and Mary Burns are among the local organizers and we are in the process of recruiting a fine group of speakers.
  • Reservations are absolutely necessary. To make them, call Cindi Hacker toll free at (866) 229-2768.

  • Do you have a question about respiratory disease that has been bothering you? If so, feel free to write and ask us, either through our web site or by mail. We answer all of your letters.