Author Topic: U.S. House panel votes to raise commercial pilot retirement age to 67  (Read 4631 times)

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WASHINGTON, June 14 (Reuters) - A U.S. House of Representatives committee on Wednesday narrowly voted to raise the mandatory commercial pilot retirement age to 67 from 65.

Members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted 32 to 31 for the pilot age amendment to a proposed five-year bill to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) aviation safety and infrastructure programs for the next five years.

 "While commercial airline pilots are currently mandated to retire at 65, these same pilots that are forced to retire can still fly corporate and charter jets beyond the age of 65," said Representative Troy Nehls, a Republican, adding the change could help address a pilot shortage.

The House committee approved the roughly 800-page FAA bill by a unanimous 63-0 vote. It is expected to be taken up by the entire House next month.

Republican Representative Sam Graves, the committee chair, said the bill is "vital to our economy, to millions of jobs, and to the 850 million passengers that depend on our aviation system every year."The pilot age proposal faces opposition from unions and an uncertain fate by a U.S. Senate committee, which will consider its version of the FAA measure on Thursday and does not currently include the pilot age hike.

The Regional Airline Association (RAA) praised the pilot age hike, noting 324 airports have lost, on average, a third of their air service with more than 400 airplanes parked due to a lack of pilots.

"Raising the pilot retirement age keeps experienced pilots -- particularly, captains -- in place," RAA said.

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) opposed raising the retirement age and says it could cause airline scheduling and pilot training issues and require reopening pilot contracts. Even if the proposal is approved, the union noted that international rules would still prevent pilots older than 65 from flying in most countries outside the U.S.ALPA called the proposal a "politically driven choice that betrays a fundamental understanding of airline industry operations, the pilot profession, and safety."

Senator Lindsey Graham previously noted that in 2007 the United States raised the mandatory retirement age from 60 to 65, and "the sky did not fall." Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg does not support raising the pilot retirement age.

The House bill would bar airlines from charging family seating fees but would not set minimum seat size requirements or impose new rules to compensate passengers for delays.