On Wednesday, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted 32 to 31 in favor of an amendment to extend the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) aviation safety and infrastructure projects for the next five years, which included a provision to increase the minimum age at which a pilot may hold a license.
A House committee raised the statutory retirement age for commercial pilots in the United States from 65 to 67 by a slim margin.
Unions have objected to the proposed pilot age increase, and the bill’s fate is unknown in a U.S. Senate committee that will discuss its version of the FAA plan on Thursday.
The Regional Airline Association (RAA) praised the increase in the minimum age for pilots after finding that 324 airports had lost, on average, a third of their air operations owing to a lack of pilots, resulting in more than 400 airplanes parking.
A House committee passed the nearly 800-page FAA measure with a 63-0 majority. The full House of Representatives is anticipated to take it up the following month.
Chairman of the committee and Republican Representative Sam Graves said the measure is “vital to our economy, to millions of jobs, and to the 850 million passengers who depend on our aviation system every year.”
The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) has spoken out against shifting the age, citing potential disruptions to pilot training and airline scheduling and the need to revisit pilot contracts as reasons for its opposition. The union pointed out that even if the plan were adopted, pilots over 65 would still be barred from flying in most locations outside the United States due to international regulations.
When the United States increased its obligatory retirement age from 60 to 65 in 2007, Senator Lindsey Graham pointed out that “the sky did not fall.” Pete Buttigieg, the current Secretary of Transportation, is against increasing the minimum age at which a pilot must retire.