In March 2023, U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina; Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyoming; Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee; Mark Kelly, D-Arizona; and Deb Fischer, R-Nebraska, reintroduced the Let Experienced Pilots Fly Act to address airline flight cancellations caused by a shortage of pilots.
- Raises the mandatory commercial pilot retirement age from 65 to 67.
- Requires that pilots over the age of 65 maintain a first-class medical certification, which must be renewed every six months.
- Requires air carriers to continue using pilot training and qualification programs approved by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
- Does not change or alter any other qualification – beyond age – to become a commercial airline pilot.
With baby boomers making up half of the airline pilot population, roughly 5,000 fully qualified pilots will be forced to retired within the next two years and the problem will grow even more acute in the years after. The wave of forced pilot retirements continues even as hundreds of flights are being cancelled due to a shortage of available pilots and crews.
In 2007, the retirement age for pilots in the United States was raised from 60 to 65 after medical reports concluded age had an ‘insignificant impact’ on performance in the cockpit and there were safety precautions already in place to prevent accidents in case of incapacitation. The lawmakers said nothing in this legislation changes current safety and proficiency procedures for commercial pilots.