“Proposed Rule Change Would Allow Experienced Pilots to Keep Flying”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) today called on his colleagues to pass S.65 before Congress adjourns for the year. The legislation seeks to increase the mandatory retirement age for commercial airline pilots from age 60 to 65.

“We must protect our most experienced pilots who are in danger of losing their jobs due to the current mandatory retirement age of 60,” Inhofe said. “Due to thorough physical and mental evaluations in place for all pilots, we know that these experienced pilots meet the highest qualifications and standards. Americans are living longer, healthier lives and we must take this into consideration when examining mandatory retirement laws.

“I’ve been working closely with pilot and airline groups for years including: Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, JetBlue, and AARP to raise the retirement age for America’s most experienced pilots—because the American people realize that it’s not right to allow pilots from all over the world to fly and work in U.S. airspace but deny American pilots the same right and privilege.”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rule, adopted in 1959 with no scientific evidence to support it, has come under increased scrutiny due to the recent announcement by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) that it will adopt a new international retirement standard of age 65 on November 23. This new standard will result in foreign pilots being allowed to fly in U.S. airspace while American pilots of the same age will be denied the same right.

A modified version of the bill is currently attached to the Senate Transportation Appropriations bill and could save the federal government an estimated $1 billion per year as a result of having pilots working an extra five years while paying into the Medicare, Social Security and Public Benefit Guaranty Corporation.

The United States is one of only two countries in the Joint Aviation Authorities that requires their commercial pilots to retire at age 60. Sen. Inhofe’s legislation would follow the ICAO standard allowing pilots to fly up to age 65 as long as the co-pilot is under 60.