UNITED STATES- Several pilot union based in the United States (US) expressed their objection to the New Retirement Age Law, raising the required pilot age from 65 to 67.
Troy Nehls, a Republican from Texas, introduced the amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Bill.
The US House of Representatives Transport & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee voted on the bill. T&I accepted it on June 14, 2023, and Nehls introduced the amendment on June 12, 2023.
In his amendment, the Republican Councilman suggested changing Section 44729 of Title 49 of the US Code by changing the number 65 to 67, thereby setting up 67 as the new required retirement age for pilots in the US.
ALPA Pilot Union Opposes 67 Age of Retirement Amendment
In response to the change, the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA). A union that speaks for pilots at Air Canada (AC), JetBlue (B6), Alaska Airlines (AS), Breeze Airways (MX), Delta Air Lines (DL), Spirit Airlines (NK), United Airlines (UA), and other carriers has started off a petition to prepare its members against the bill.
The petition text stated, “Airlines’ executives are promoting a false narrative regarding pilot availability. The suggestion is to resolve the made-up “issue” by raising the required retirement age for U.S. airline pilots beyond 65.”
Further, it expressed concern that these changes would displace younger pilots. Introducing risks into the aviation system, raising training costs for air carriers, and aggravating the current pilot training backlog.
The union emphasized its strong opposition to this endeavor. Highlighting that the Board of Directors had already adopted an unequivocal policy on the matter in 2022.
Opposition by the Allied Pilots Association (APA)
In the meantime, the Allied Pilots Association (APA) represents 15,000 pilots from American Airlines (AA). Also expressed their opposition to the New Retirement Age Law.
“Safety considerations established the current international standard of mandatory retirement at age 65. Increasing the pilot retirement age would introduce additional risks to commercial aviation,” stated Captain Ed Sicher, the President of APA.
Sicher further pointed out health concerns linked with aging. Problems such as cognitive decline, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes have been widely studied and backed by American Airlines’ own data.
He mentioned that about 30% of pilots nearing retirement at American Airlines are either on long-term sick leave or disability.
“Raising the pilot retirement age would be unwise for various reasons, and we firmly urge lawmakers to remove the amendment before approving this legislation,” concluded Sicher.
The families of Colgan Air Flight 3407 victims expressed their criticism of the FAA Reauthorization Bill. Arguing that changing the training process for First Officers in the United States would undermine the system implemented in response to the 2009 crash.
The Airline Safety and FAA Reauthorization Act of 2010 went into effect following the tragic incident that claimed 51 lives. This legislation required First Officers to gather a minimum of 1,500 flight hours (FH) before becoming eligible for employment with a commercial airline.
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