Pilot Retirement Age in USA is proposed to raise to 67 from 65

It’s supported by Regional Airline Association but ALPA, Airline Pilot Association, is against it.

Statement from RAA

In response to legislation introduced by Senators Graham, Manchin, Grassley, Lummis, Blackburn, Kelly and Fischer today entitled the Let Experienced Fly Act, Regional Airline Association (RAA) President, and CEO Faye Malarkey Black offered the following statement:

“RAA applauds Senators Graham, Manchin, Grassley, Lummis, Blackburn, Kelly, and Fischer for this crucial, bipartisan legislation raising the pilot retirement age to 67. A growing pilot shortage and an even more acute shortage of airline captains—a byproduct of letting the pilot shortage worsen over time—has devastated small community air service across the United States. Already, 324 airports have lost an average of one-third of their air service and 53 airports have lost more than half of their air service. Fourteen airports have lost all flights.

While long-term policy solutions must continue to focus on pilot training and career access, short-term solutions are needed today to mitigate against further air service collapse. Raising the pilot retirement age keeps experienced pilots—particularly, Captains—in place and will have an immediate, positive impact on the pilot shortage. Additionally, as airlines of all sizes address “juniority” in the pilot workforce, raising the retirement age keeps experienced pilots in the flight deck where they are needed to mentor and share their expertise, helping to create a strong foundation for the next generation.

This bill addresses wrongheaded age discrimination against healthy pilots, who are sidelined at the peak of their experience and earnings potential and two years ahead of their full Social Security retirement age. This outdated mandate defies positive health trends and improved medical diagnostics and preventive tools allowing people to live longer, healthier lives. Importantly, pilots must maintain a first-class medical certification, and this rigorous screening must be renewed every six months. Indeed, pilots over the age of 65 are already safely serving in U.S. airline Part 135 and charter operations. Additionally, Canada and nine other countries have no mandatory retirement age. Japan has a retirement age of 68.

Pilots who meet FAA’s stringent health standards can continue to fly safely. Forcing them out of the cockpits as air service losses mount is the wrong thing to do, and we applaud Senators Graham, Manchin and others for their bipartisan efforts to right this wrong. Air service loss means fewer destinations, less frequency, longer layovers, more connections, more delays and cancelations, reduced convenience, and higher costs for passengers. Air service loss drives more travelers to our highways, where the traffic fatality rate is soaring. Air service loss makes it harder for communities to attract investment, generate employment, and provide mobility and vital services to their citizens.”

RAA fully supports the Let Experienced Pilots Fly Act and urges the Senate to enact this important legislation without delay.

For more information on the pilot shortage and its impact on small community air service, please see RAA’s Small Community Air Service & Pilot Shortage Issue Brief.

Statement from ALPA

ALPA Opposes Legislation to Increase Retirement Age for Professional Airline Pilots

Operational Ramifications Will Increase Costs and Introduce Unnecessary Risk

MCLEAN, Va.— The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) today issued the following statement regarding the Let Experienced Pilots Fly Act, introduced in both the House and Senate this week, that attempts to raise the mandatory retirement age for professional airline pilots.

“This legislation is a solution in search of a problem,” said Capt. Jason Ambrosi, ALPA president. “Raising the retirement age would only increase costs for airlines, worsen the post-COVID training backlog by using much-needed training cycles to train pilots over 65 who would be limited to domestic operations, and introduce unnecessary risks to passengers and crew alike. That’s why major airlines and a significant majority of pilots and passengers oppose this move. We are disappointed by the introduction of this misbegotten bill that betrays an understanding of how the airline industry works and will create more problems for air travel.”

Last year, ALPA’s pilot leaders adopted a resolution opposing any attempts to increase the retirement age for professional airline pilots, citing the significant unintended consequences to aviation safety and the pilot workforce as a whole.

Source: www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/senate-bill/4607/

Image: © American Airlines