Filed Under: Business

Lawmakers push to raise pilot retirement age, FAA polls public on seat size

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Weather delays, pilot shortages, and flight cancellations have made for tumultuous travel adventures for some Americans. Despite the airline ails, Neil Leonard booked a flight to attend a business conference in Omaha, Nebraska. 

“So, it’s been interesting with all the cancellations and flights in all,” Leonard said. “I was more apprehensive about coming.”

”We have a crisis when it comes to airline travel,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said during a news conference where he introduced the Let Experienced Pilots Fly Act. “We have a pilot shortage and those who say we don’t, well, they’re just full of it because they’re misleading the public.”

The bill aims to address a commercial airline pilot shortage, raising the retirement age from 65 to 67. In 2007, Congress unanimously passed a bill upping the age to 65. 

“Americans are living longer, working longer,” Leonard said. “So, as long as they have the capacity to fly a plane with everyone aboard safely I’m all about it.”

The Allied Pilots Association, which represents 14,000 American Airlines pilots, disagrees. 

“When it was changed before we came to the international standard of 65,” Allied Pilots Association spokesperson Dennis Tajer said. “This is different. This was a failure to plan for the recovery and now these wild ideas are coming out. Number one, as Secretary Buttigieg said, ‘This is not nestled in safety, and for safety reasons, we’re going to focus on getting new pilots on the flight deck.’”

While airlines work to get more pilots in the sky, on the ground, the FAA has some overdue homework of its own. When Congress funded the agency in 2018, it mandated the FAA seek public comments on seat size standards.

“I never really thought about like the size of the seats,” passenger Madaline Angel said.  

“Obviously due to my personal size, I prefer for there to be more room,” passenger Evan Smith said. 

FlyersRights, an airline passenger advocacy group, issued the following statement: 

“Seats have continued to shrink by some airlines, and people are continuing to get larger. Our estimate is that only 20% of the population can reasonably fit in these seats now. It’s beyond a matter of comfort, or even emergency evacuation, there are serious health and safety issues when you’re put in cramped conditions for hours on end.”

The FAA will allow 90 days for public comments. However, that does not mean it will come to an agreement on seat size standards. 

JIMMIE JOHNSON: WEATHER DELAYS. PILOT SHORTAGES. FLIGHT CANCELLATIONS. 

DESPITE THE AIRLINE AILS, NEIL LEONARD IS STILL TRAVELING FOR WORK. 

HIS MOST RECENT FLIGHT WAS FOR A CONFERENCE IN OMAHA.  

NEIL LEONARD: “So, it’s been interesting with all the cancellations and flights in all. I was more apprehensive about coming”

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM: ”We have a crisis when it comes to airline travel. We have a pilot shortage and those who say we don’t, well, there just full of it because they’re misleading the public.”

JOHNSON: SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM ALONG WITH A GROUP OF REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS SAY THEY HAVE A SOLUTION. IT’S CALLED THE LET EXPERIENCED PILOTS FLY ACT. 

IT WOULD RAISE THE MANDATORY RETIREMENT AGE FOR COMMERCIAL PILOTS FROM AGE 65 TO 67- IN A MOVE TO ADDRESS A SHORTAGE OF PILOTS. IN 2007, CONGRESS UNANIMOUSLY UPPED THE AGE FROM 60 TO 65. 

LEONARD: “Americans are living longer, working longer. So, as long as they have the capacity to fly a plane with everyone on aboard safely I’m all about it.”

JOHNSON: BUT THE ALLIED PILOTS ASSOCIATION, WHICH REPRESENTS 14-THOUSAND AMERICAN AIRLINES PILOTS DISAGREES. 

CAPT. DENNIS TAJER: “When it was changed before we came to the international standard of 65. This is different. This was a failure to plan for the recovery and now these wild ideas are coming out. Number one, as Secretary Buttigieg said, ‘This is not nestled in safety, and for safety reasons we’re going to focus on getting new pilots on the flight deck.”> 

JOHNSON: “as airlines work to get more pilots in the sky on the ground, the f-a-a has some overdue homework of its own, seeking public comments on seat size standards. an order congress tasked the agency to address since 20-18. it’s something passengers have mixed feelings about.”

MADALINE ANGEL: “I never really thought about like the size of the seats.”

EVAN SMITH: “Obviously due to my personal size, I prefer for there to be more room.”

JOHNSON: FLYERS RIGHTS, AN AIRLINE PASSENGER ADVOCACY GROUP, ESTIMATES, “…ONLY 20% OF THE POPULATION CAN REASONABLY FIT IN THESE SEATS NOW. IT’S BEYOND A MATTER OF COMFORT, OR EVEN EMERGENCY EVACUATION, THERE ARE SERIOUS HEALTH AND SAFETY ISSUES WHEN YOU’RE PUT IN CRAMPED CONDITIONS FOR HOURS ON END.”

A CONCERN FOR BUSINESS TRAVELERS LIKE LEONARD. 

THE F-A-A WILL ALLOW 90-DAYS FOR PUBLIC COMMENTS. HOWEVER, IT DOESN’T MEAN THEY WILL COME TO AN AGREEMENT ON SEAT SIZE STANDARDS. 

Weather delays, pilot shortages, and flight cancellations have made for tumultuous travel adventures for some Americans. Despite the airline ails, Neil Leonard booked a flight to attend a business conference in Omaha, Nebraska. 

“So, it’s been interesting with all the cancellations and flights in all,” Leonard said. “I was more apprehensive about coming.”

”We have a crisis when it comes to airline travel,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said during a news conference where he introduced the Let Experienced Pilots Fly Act. “We have a pilot shortage and those who say we don’t, well, they’re just full of it because they’re misleading the public.”

The bill aims to address a commercial airline pilot shortage, raising the retirement age from 65 to 67. In 2007, Congress unanimously passed a bill upping the age to 65. 

“Americans are living longer, working longer,” Leonard said. “So, as long as they have the capacity to fly a plane with everyone aboard safely I’m all about it.”

The Allied Pilots Association, which represents 14,000 American Airlines pilots, disagrees. 

“When it was changed before we came to the international standard of 65,” Allied Pilots Association spokesperson Dennis Tajer said. “This is different. This was a failure to plan for the recovery and now these wild ideas are coming out. Number one, as Secretary Buttigieg said, ‘This is not nestled in safety, and for safety reasons, we’re going to focus on getting new pilots on the flight deck.’”

While airlines work to get more pilots in the sky, on the ground, the FAA has some overdue homework of its own. When Congress funded the agency in 2018, it mandated the FAA seek public comments on seat size standards.

“I never really thought about like the size of the seats,” passenger Madaline Angel said.  

“Obviously due to my personal size, I prefer for there to be more room,” passenger Evan Smith said. 

FlyersRights, an airline passenger advocacy group, issued the following statement: 

“Seats have continued to shrink by some airlines, and people are continuing to get larger. Our estimate is that only 20% of the population can reasonably fit in these seats now. It’s beyond a matter of comfort, or even emergency evacuation, there are serious health and safety issues when you’re put in cramped conditions for hours on end.”

The FAA will allow 90 days for public comments. However, that does not mean it will come to an agreement on seat size standards. 

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