U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today joined his colleagues in introducing the Let Experienced Pilots Fly Act, legislation that would raise the mandatory commercial pilot retirement age from 65 to 67.
“Airline staffing challenges continue to result in cancellations and delays across the aviation system,” said Thune. “Providing an opportunity for highly qualified, experienced pilots to continue flying past age 65 is a sensible way to alleviate these challenges while training programs recover from the effects of the pandemic.”
The legislation was led by U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) and was also co-sponsored by U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.).
- Raises the mandatory commercial pilot retirement age from 65 to 67.
- Requires that pilots over the age of 65 maintain a first-class medical certification, which must be renewed every six months.
- Requires air carriers to continue using pilot training and qualification programs approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.
- Does not change or alter any other qualification – beyond age – for commercial airline pilots.
Baby boomers make up half of the current airline pilot population, with roughly 5,000 fully qualified pilots expected to be forced to retire within the next two years, worsening the ongoing staffing shortage that’s already led to mass flight cancellations.
In 2007, the retirement age for pilots in the United States was raised from 60 to 65 after medical reports concluded age had an ‘insignificant impact’ on performance in the cockpit and there were safety precautions already in place to prevent accidents in case of incapacitation. Nothing in this legislation changes current safety and proficiency procedures for commercial pilots. Pilots will continue to be held to an incredibly high standard to ensure passenger safety.