Let’s premise the Experienced Pilots Fly Act on good available Data to support 65 becoming 67 retirement rule

shortage and solution?
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Past Legislation has mandated new safety standards without research supporting the Numbers

Sen. Graham offers short-term pilots supply by moving retirement from 65 to 67

FAA Flight Surgeon has the background, data and resources to QUICKLY ASSESS safety risk

Below is an AIN article about Senator Graham’s the Let Experienced Pilots Fly Act (S.4607) which would provide an immediate addition to the airline pilot pool. This is another example of Congressional intervention on an aviation safety issue. Unlike past such amendments to a complex technical standard, it appears that a predicate analysis on the historical data about pilot age and health issues should be completed BEFORE the standard is changed. If nothing else, the 2009 Final Rule on Part 121 Pilot Age Limit has provided a sample of pilots flying beyond the old health based standard!!!

Much of American politics and even public policy is devoted to debates about basic FACTs. None worse than the war of words between the unions and management about the PILOT SHORTAGE. The phrase “diametrically opposed” is an understatement of the strength of controversy.Dr. Northrup

First, the FAA has an exceptional Flight Surgeon, Dr. Northrup. She has exhibited an excellent command of the relevant health research and an openness to new approaches. Setting a study as a prerequisite to moving retirement age from 65 to 67 with this recognized medical professional will not get delayed by bureaucratic red tape.

Second, there is a very relevant data base which can be used to assess the impact of increasing the retirement age from 65 to 67. “In 1997 Civil Aerospace Medical Institute ( CAMI), at the request of the Federal Air Surgeon, developed an Incapacitation Data Registry (IDR) to track pilot inflight medical incapacitations and impairments. The data, which areIDR compiled on individual airmen holding a U.S. FAA medical certificate involved in inflight medical events,  provide the FAA with a unique resource for aviation safety studies of inflight medical events. The IDR currently contains over 1,100 cases and reflects data in real-time as new cases are received daily.”

Third,  a very cursory of the academic research journals on cardiac events shows a very thorough literature as well as a field of available experts, such as—

 

Multidimensional risk assessment versus age as criterion for retirement of airline pilots

Conclusions: An improved medical certification test could identify those pathologic conditions that might occur more frequently in older subjects. If pilots also underwent adequate performance testing, a gradual increase of the retirement age to approximately age 70 would seem justified. In the future, a longitudinal database should be established to validate medical tests for their ability to predict a pilot’s accident risk. Using individual pilots as their own controls might be more sensitive than using population-based norm values. Progress in this field would advance medical assessment for other groups such as air traffic controllers or automobile drivers.

Medical risks in older pilots: a systematic review on incapacitation and age

Conclusions: Medical in-flight incapacitation is a very rare event. Whether the increase in in-flight incapacitation results in an increase in accidents or can be compensated for by error reduction through experience cannot be answered. A register of all pilots with a clear identification system to follow their career and health, their accidents and impairments, might help to reconsider the grounding of pilots over 60 and to define better criteria than mere age.

Pass S.4607 as soon as possible and preface the implementation of the 65 to 67 retirement standard on a Dr. Northrup study of the IDR data. Just flagging this immediate source for pilots via a two year addition and no diminution of the medical examination protocols might inspire professors to start the analyses.

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Sen. Graham Calls for Increasing Pilot Retirement Age

 

Sen. Graham GSP press conference

by Kerry Lynch

 – July 26, 2022, 12:00 PM

 

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), joined by a handful of other Republican Senators[1], yesterday introduced a bill that would edge up the airline pilot retirement age from 65 to 67. The legislation, the Let Experienced Pilots Fly Act (S.4607)[2], stipulates that pilots older than 65 must maintain first-class FAA medicals, which are renewed every six months. Also, air carriers must remain in compliance with their FAA-approved pilot training and qualification programs.

graham S. 4607

In introducing the bill, Graham estimated that some 5,000 airline pilots will be forced to retire in the next two years, exacerbating a looming shortage of pilots. The bill was introduced as Boeing was releasing its latest outlook forecasting a need for 602,000 pilots over the next 20 years.

“There is a severe and growing pilot shortage in the U.S. Every air traveler sees and feels the impact when they go to the airport,” Graham said. “One of the biggest causes of air delays is a lack of available crews. My legislation…will make an immediate and appreciable difference in keeping highly-trained pilots on the job.”

Co-sponsoring the legislation are Sens. John Thune (R-South Dakota), Deb Fischer (R-Nebraska), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming), and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee). Those senators echoed concerns about pilot shortages and airline delays.

The bill has drawn mixed industry reactions. National Air Carrier Association president and CEO George Novak called the action “timely” and said it would mitigate the shortage. With action, he said, “airlines will continue to reduce service to less profitable smaller and rural communities at a time when demand for domestic air travel is exceeding pre-pandemic levels.”

ALPA Capt DePete

However, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) International opposed the bill, calling it a misguided attempt to solve a problem that does not exist. “This legislation is yet another attempt to distract the conversation from the real issue, which is that some U.S. airlines have clearly failed to plan for the industry’s comeback that we are experiencing today,” said ALPA president Joe DePete. “There is no reason to change the retirement age and doing so would only increase costs for airlines and introduce unnecessary risks to passengers and crew alike.”

 

[1]  Sen. Lummis, R-WY, Sen. Thune R-ND, Sen. Blackburn, R-TN, Sen. Fischer R-NE, Sen. Grassley, R-IA

 

[2] THIS IS NOT THE FIRST TIME THAT CONGRESS HAS DELVED INTO THIS SUBJECT–Rep. Oberstar H.R.4343 – Fair Treatment for Experienced Pilots Act; Congress HR3948 1979-1980 Requires the Director of the National Institutes of Health, in consultation with the Secretary of Transportation, to conduct a study within one year to determine: (1) whether an age limitation for pilots is medically warranted; and (2) whether the rules governing the conduct and frequency of medical examinations for the medical certification of pilots are adequate to determine an individual’s physical condition.

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