Commerce Committee Approves Legislation to Amend the Age Restriction for Pilots

November 17, 2005

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee today approved a substitute amendment offered by Senator Burns to S. 65, a bill to amend age restrictions for pilots, by voice vote. The bill was introduced by Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.).

Since 1960, federal regulations have specified that individuals age 60 and older may not serve as airline pilots on any commercial flights. The European Joint Aviation Authority (JAA) permits airline pilots to fly up to age 65, but also requires that another pilot on the flight be age 60 or younger. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has proposed adopting a worldwide standard based on the JAA standard.

The Burns substitute directs the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary to adopt the ICAO standard or recommended practice within 30 days after the ICAO acts on the matter. ICAO is scheduled to consider the measure in November 2006. The DOT is only authorized to adopt the new modification if it is consistent with the previously agreed upon Air Navigation Commission directive which allows commercial carrier pilots-in-command to fly up to their 65th birthday, if the co-pilot is 60 years old or younger.

As in the underlying bill, the Burns substitute allows pilots, who have previously been terminated or had a cessation of employment at a commercial air carrier because of the Age 60 restriction, to seek re-employment at a commercial air carrier. However, pilots cannot file suit to gain re-employment and cannot file suit to reclaim seniority under any labor agreement in effect between a recognized bargaining unit for pilots and an air carrier engaged in commercial operations.

The substitute requires the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to submit a report to both Senate and House authorizing committees of jurisdiction concerning the effects, if any, the age modification change has on aviation safety.

The bill now proceeds to the full Senate for its consideration.

Click here for a copy of Senator Burns' substitute