A record number of pilots will be forced to retire in the next year. In the period between late 2022 and 2023, thousands of seasoned commercial pilots will be forced out of the cockpit according to industry experts. The U.S. is projected to lose 33,000-50,000 pilots by 2030. Two groups of concerned pilots created https://www.raisethepilotage.com and https://www.CAP68.com and have joined together to urge Congress to raise the mandatory retirement age beyond 65 as soon as possible. Both websites are an exchange of information and data.
Pilots are routinely and randomly tested, including check flights. There is strict oversight by the FAA and other organizations. Safety remains the groups’ top priority.
Cancellations, delays, and the elimination of service to smaller, regional airports is a problem now. Coalition members, all active commercial pilots, point out that the situation will only get worse as the Thanksgiving and Christmas travel seasons approach. They believe that with their experience. and proven health and fitness, raising the mandatory retirement age immediately is a key solution to the critical travel problem.
Even before the effects of COVID-19 groundings, these pilots were concerned about the impending shortage, as predicted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, top investment banking firms, and industry groups. With the pandemic came buyouts and early retirements, combined with the shuttering of training programs. These factors all accelerated the shortage.
With a unanimous vote of Congress in 2007, the mandatory age for pilots flying commercial planes in the U.S. was raised from 60 to 65. Fifteen years later, with American travelers back in the air after the pandemic, there are fewer pilots to fly them. It is time to raise the pilot retirement age and keep planes flying.
Raising the mandatory pilot retirement age above 65 will immediately slow the growing number of cancellations and help carriers who are curtailing service to smaller markets in the United States. Nine European countries, as well as Japan and Australia, have all raised the retirement age above 65.
Only Congress can make this change, and the pilot group is working with members of the House and Senate. They appreciate the support of Senator Lindsey Graham and others. The pilot coalition is committed to working with all members of Congress to help ensure legislation is passed quickly.
In 2007, when the forced retirement age was raised from 60 to 65, the unions got on board. The pilot coalition believes the public will support their solution and that the unions will ultimately agree, as they did in 2007.
All the pilots involved in the Raise the Pilot Age and CAP 68 groups are union members. Some have served as union leaders. They note that with the exception of Southwest’s pilot union, the other pilot unions have not shared any polling they (may) have conducted with their members on this specific issue.
In years past, many of these pilots continued working after pensions were lost due to carrier bankruptcy and takeovers. Members were working when 9-11 occurred and airlines were grounded. They also devote time to helping younger, less experienced pilots gain hours and expertise so they can become Captains. They point out that recruitment and training of new pilots is essential but requires significant time.
The public is asked to contact their Senators and members of Congress to express their support for legislation raising the pilot retirement age in the U.S. immediately.