US Air Force withdraws height restrictions for applicants

The U.S. Air Force announced this week that it is changing its height restrictions for pilots. Applicants below 64 inches (5’4″) or above 77 inches (6’5″) can now enter a cockpit without a waiver. 

Under the Air Force’s previous requirements, an Air Force pilot applicant — barring waivers — needed to have a standing height between 5’4″ to 6’5″ and a sitting height of 34-40 inches. That requirement eliminated about 44% of the U.S. female population between the ages of 20 and 29, according to the Air Force.

“Studies have shown that women’s perceptions about being fully qualified for a job makes them less likely to apply, even though there is a waiver option,” said Air Force mobility planner and programmer Lieutenant Colonel Jessica Ruttenber in a press release issued Thursday.

According to Ruttenber, the leader of the initiative to change the height standards, historically, most U.S. aircraft was designed around the height of an average male. 

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