The United States Congress is considering proposed legislation that would raise the retirement age for commercial airline pilots in the US by at least two years, from 65 to 67.
A group of Republicans in Congress proposed the legislation, arguing that raising the retirement age would help address the pilot shortage across the country.
During a news conference, which took place on July 25, 2022, Senator Lindsey Graham said that the proposal would require pilots over the age of 65 to pass a rigorous medical screening every six months.
The senator also argued that since around 14,000 flight crew across the US are due to retire over the next four years, a new mandate could help airlines, particularly regional carriers, to deal with staff shortages. Travellers have already faced widespread flight cancelations and delays during the summer season.
“It’s time for America to adjust its age when it comes to allowing qualified people to be in the cockpit,” Graham was cited as saying.
Meanwhile, Chip Roy, a member of the Republican Party who contributed to Graham introducing the bill, explained that the mandatory retirement age for commercial airline pilots has not been raised since 2007. He argued that raising the age by two years “does not make any major changes to the current law governing pilot retirements”.
“Travel demand has naturally skyrocketed. However, Americans are now experiencing flight delays and cancellations on an unacceptable scale due to a worsening pilot shortage. A key factor is a government-mandated retirement age that forces out thousands of our most qualified pilots every year,” Roy wrote on his official website. “That’s why Senator Graham and I are introducing the Let Experienced Pilots Fly Act — to immediately alleviate the consequences of this artificial shortage by raising the commercial pilot retirement age from 65 to 67.”
However, if the bill is approved, pilots over 65 will still not be able to perform long-haul flights due to differences in international age regulations.