The Senate Commerce Committee has narrowly voted against raising the mandatory airline pilot retirement age from 65 to 67. Reuters reported the committee spent Thursday going over a $107 billion proposed reauthorization bill for the agency and the retirement age was among the thorniest issues. The bill still has to go to the full Senate for approval before being reconciled with the House’s bill, which passed that chamber six months ago. The House approved the retirement age boost as a way to put more pilots at the disposal of airlines facing a labor shortage. However, there is also widespread opposition to the idea, including from FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker, who wrote a letter to Congress urging its rejection until more study could be done on the subject. The committee voted 14-13 against the measure.
Among the other positions taken by the committee was approval to extend the retained duration of cockpit voice recorder date to 25 hours and to increase the number of personnel in certification and enforcement. It also approved measures to boost air traffic controller hiring and add runway surveillance equipment at airports. The committee also approved a proposal to boost civil penalties for violations of airline consumer laws to $75,000 from $25,000.
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