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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