WASHINGTON, D.C. — In an effort to fight a nationwide pilot shortage, some lawmakers are pushing a plan to keep pilots on the job longer.
Currently, the mandatory retirement age for commercial airline pilots is 65 years, but a new proposal would raise that by two. It’s a move aimed at keeping more planes in the air after months of warnings to Congress.
“We have almost 100 airplanes effectively grounded right now, regional aircraft, because there’s not enough pilots to fly them,” United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said in front of a Senate Committee hearing.
The bipartisan legislation was first introduced by Senator Lindsey Graham back in 2022. It aims to bump the retirement age up to 67, impacting the estimated 5,000 pilots who will retire within the next two years.
“That’s a horrid idea,” American Airlines pilot Captain Dennis Tajer said.
Tajer flies 737s for the airline. He claims raising the retirement age will put safety at risk.
“This is a high-performance environment,” Tajer said. “Pushing it beyond what might be considered reasonable and rational in age may be pressurizing that margin of safety.”
The new rules, if approved, would require that pilots over the age of 65 receive a first-class medical certification that must be renewed every six months to make sure they’re healthy.
The Regional Airline Association supports the plan. They point to the 324 airports that have lost, on average, a third of their air service, and the more than 400 airplanes parked because of a lack of pilots.
Captain Tajer says it sounds like a good idea, but instead would cost the big airlines big money.
“This is not well thought out. Tajer said. “It doesn’t recognize the strain.”
The mandatory retirement age was last raised back in 2007 when it jumped from 60 to 65.
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