Low Cost & Regional

RAA applauds pilot retirement age legislation

The US Regional Airline Association (RAA) is applauding a legislative attempt to raise the pilot retirement age to 67.

“A growing pilot shortage and an even more acute shortage of airline captains—a byproduct of letting the pilot shortage worsen over time—has devastated small community air service across the United States,” said RAA president and CEO Faye Malarkey Black, who added, “already, 324 airports have lost an average of one-third of their air service and 53 airports have lost more than half of their air service. Fourteen airports have lost all flights.”

The RAA said that while long-term policy solutions must continue to focus on pilot training and career access, short-term solutions are needed today to mitigate against further air service collapse. Raising the pilot retirement age keeps experienced pilots—particularly, captains—in place and will have an immediate, positive impact on the pilot shortage. Additionally, as airlines of all sizes address “juniority” in the pilot workforce,  it said raising the retirement age keeps experienced pilots in the flight deck where they are needed to mentor and share their expertise, helping to create a strong foundation for the next generation.

“This bill addresses wrongheaded age discrimination against healthy pilots, who are sidelined at the peak of their experience and earnings potential and two years ahead of their full Social Security retirement age,” she said. “This outdated mandate defies positive health trends and improved medical diagnostics and preventive tools allowing people to live longer, healthier lives. Importantly, pilots must maintain a first-class medical certification, and this rigorous screening must be renewed every six months. Indeed, pilots over the age of 65 are already safely serving in US airline Part 135 and charter operations. Additionally, Canada and nine other countries have no mandatory retirement age. Japan has a retirement age of 68.”

“Pilots who meet FAA’s stringent health standards can continue to fly safely. Forcing them out of the cockpits as air service losses mount is the wrong thing to do, and we applaud Senators Graham, Manchin and others for their bipartisan efforts to right this wrong. Air service loss means fewer destinations, less frequency, longer layovers, more connections, more delays and cancelations, reduced convenience, and higher costs for passengers. Air service loss drives more travelers to our highways, where the traffic fatality rate is soaring. Air service loss makes it harder for communities to attract investment, generate employment, and provide mobility and vital services to their citizens.”

RAA said it fully supports the Let Experienced Pilots Fly Act and urges the Senate to enact this important legislation without delay.

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