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Government proposes raise in pilot retirement age to 65

Wed., Jan. 31, 2007

Airline pilots would be allowed to fly until they turn 65 instead of the current mandatory retirement age of 60 under new rules proposed by the Federal Aviation Administration.

At least one member of a flight crew would still have to be under 60 under the proposal announced Tuesday by agency administrator Marion Blakey.

The FAA’s proposal mirrors a rule adopted in November by the International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations group.

Blakey said it’s important to adhere to international aviation standards and that pilots are living longer, healthier lives.

“Is there a group of employees in better shape than pilots?” Blakey said at a luncheon speech.

She said it would take 18 months to two years for the rule to be put into place. It won’t affect pilots who reach retirement age before it takes effect, she said.

Blakey last year ordered a forum of airline, labor and medical experts to recommend whether the United States should raise the age limit. By November, the group hadn’t reached a consensus, but outlined the pros and cons of the issue.

Those who favored raising the retirement age said there was no medical evidence that older pilots were unsafe.

Those who oppose raising the retirement age, including leaders of the Air Line Pilots Association, said the safety impact of changing the retirement age hasn’t been analyzed.

A lot of pilots want to work longer because their pensions were slashed after their airlines sought bankruptcy protection.

“Many pilots have taken huge penalties to their pensions, and this is a way to recoup some of that,” said Carl Kuwitzky, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association, which has lobbied for the change.


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