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Bill Would Boost Commercial Pilot Retirement Age

February 7, 2005

Bill Would Boost Commercial Pilot Retirement Age
February 7, 2005 – Legislation was raised last week, calling for the mandatory retirement age for commercial airline pilots to increase by five years to 65, CNN reports.

Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Rep. Jim Gibbons of Nevada said the regulation currently enforced is outdated and changing it over time would save jobs and retain experienced pilots.

"Our nation has hundreds of experienced, skilled, and capable pilots. Unfortunately, they cannot fly for any commercial airline because once they turn 60 they are forced to retire," said Gibbons, a former airline pilot.

Previous attempts to rescind the 44-year-old rule have failed, including one during the last session of Congress by Inhofe and Gibbons.

Absent safety data showing conclusively otherwise, the FAA continues to believe that overall cognitive abilities necessary for being an effective airline pilot may begin to deteriorate at age 60. However, some critics say the rule is an economic tool that benefits airlines because it allows them to replace expensive senior pilots with lower paid ones.

Leaders of the largest commercial airline pilots union, the Air Line Pilots Association, are reviewing the age 60 rule this year to stake out the position of the group’s 64,000 members. The union believes 60 is an arbitrary age, but also wants to ensure that any change, for which it would have to lobby, would not affect safety.

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