FAA cautions US Congress against increasing pilot retirement age from 65 to 67

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has warned the US Congress against raising the federally mandated retirement age for airline pilots from 65 to 67.

In July 2022, a bill was passed by the US Congress raising the retirement age of a pilot serving in multi crew covered operations to 67. In July 2023, the US House voted 351-69 in favor of the bill.

FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker told US Congress in a letter seen by Reuters that additional scientific research should first be conducted before deciding whether or not to raise the retirement age.

“It is crucial to provide the agency an opportunity to conduct research and determine mitigations,” Whitaker said in the letter.

Whitaker added the change should be backed by appropriate research so that the FAA can measure any risk.

Air Line Pilots Association International (ALPA), which represents more than 77,000 pilots at 43 US and Canadian airlines, is urging members to voice their opposition to local senators. 

ALPA said that raising the retirement age beyond 65 would disrupt US global operations because it would not be in compliance with international standards. 

“It would upend pilot bidding, reduce pilot utilization, create training backlogs, imperil flight operation, expose your union and airlines to significant legal liability, and ultimately require hard-fought-for collective bargaining agreements to be reopened to deal with this issue and its ramifications,” ALPA said on its website.

The current FAA regulation states that there are no FAA age limits for pilots except for commercial airline pilots employed by airlines certificated under 14 CFR Part 121. These airlines cannot employ pilots after they reach the age of 65.

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