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U.S. Senate Committee Moves to Reject Pilot Retirement Age Hike

The Senate Commerce Committee voted 14-13 to reject a proposal raising the airline pilot retirement age to 67.

A Southwest 737 in Las Vegas (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

The Senate Commerce Committee voted 14-13 on Thursday to reject a proposal raising the mandatory retirement age for airline pilots from 65 to 67. This move follows heated arguments over the issue with the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) voicing its opposition.

“Increasing the pilot retirement age will disrupt airline operations, raise ticket prices, upend collective bargaining agreements, create a cascading and costly training backlog, and put the United States out of compliance with international standards,” said ALPA President Captain Jason Ambrosi in a statement.

“This is a weird union issue,” commented Senator Ted Cruz during the hearing, citing a push from some union members supporting the age hike.

Supporters of the change argued it would address the pilot shortage and allow experienced pilots to continue flying, citing rising life expectancy and advancements in healthcare.

“We strongly encourage preceding that type of change with appropriate research so that the FAA can measure any risk associated with that policy and define appropriate mitigations,” FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker wrote in a letter to Congress earlier this week.

Last year, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 351-69 on an FAA reauthorization bill that included an age hike to 67 for airline pilots. Thursday’s move by the Senate is part of a broader reauthorization bill, which includes an increase in safety inspectors and air traffic controller staffing.

Ryan Ewing
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  • Ryan Ewing

    Ryan founded AirlineGeeks.com back in February 2013 and has amassed considerable experience in the aviation sector. His work has been featured in several publications and news outlets, including CNN, WJLA, CNET, and Business Insider. During his time in the industry, he's worked in roles pertaining to airport/airline operations while holding a B.S. in Air Transportation Management from Arizona State University along with an MBA. Ryan has experience in several facets of the industry from behind the yoke of a Cessna 172 to interviewing airline industry executives. Ryan works for AirlineGeeks' owner FLYING Media, spearheading coverage in the commercial aviation space.

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