As part of its process to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration this year, Congress is considering legislation that would push back the mandatory retirement age for America's commercial pilots, from 65 to 67.
Pilots reaching the existing retirement age of 65 may put strain on the airline industry, as a big cohort of experienced pilots leave all at once.
Mandatory retirement for U.S. pilots has been adjusted before. In 2007, retirement age was bumped from 60 to 65, after medical reports found age had an 'insignificant impact' on pilots' ability to do their jobs.
But critics say pushing retirement later could cause logistical snarls going forward. Aging pilots, for example, wouldn't be able to fly outside the country, because the rest of the world would still have regulations on how old a pilot can be.
The potential changes add to a long list of pressure points on airlines, from personnel shortages to near misses to reductions in training time that critics say could cause major safety issues for air travel.
Pilot groups have butted heads with the FAA over the issue.
"They said, 'Well if we can't get enough people, maybe we reduce the amount of training that we do,'" said Dennis Tajer, American Airlines captain and spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, the union for the airline's pilots. "It sounds like a proper business decision, and is it legal? 'Oh, yeah, it's legal.' Well, just because it's legal doesn't mean it's safe or smart."
The FAA's current authorization began in 2018. Lawmakers have until its expiration on Sept. 30 to enact a new measure.
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