FAA Bumps Airline
Pilot Retirement Age
Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) Administrator Marion Blakey announced
that the FAA will propose raising the mandatory
retirement age for U.S. commercial pilots
from 60 to 65. Speaking before pilots and
aviation experts at the National Press Club
on January 30th, Blakey said that the agency
plans to propose adopting the new International
Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standard
that allows one pilot to be up to age 65
provided the other pilot is under age 60.
No pilots will be grandfathered, and the
new Age 65 Rule will not apply to any pilot
who turns 60 before it officially is enacted.
Blakey explained the logistics of handling
individual waiver applications from affected
pilots and their employer airlines would
be too cumbersome. The agency has received
about 180 requests in just the past few
days, she said.
The Administrator acknowledged
that forcing US commercial airline pilots
to retire at 60 is 'becoming increasingly
more difficult to defend. There's a heck
of a lot of experience behind those captain
stripes, and we shouldn't have to lose it
as early as we do,' she said.
The FAA plans to issue
a formal Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)
later this year and will publish a final
rule after careful consideration of all
public comments, as required by law. "Foreign
airlines have demonstrated that experienced
pilots in good health can fly beyond age
60 without compromising safety," Blakey
said during her presentation. The Flight
Safety Foundation agreed with Blakey's assertion
that flying above 60 "does not present
any safety concerns provided all pilots
continue to have their health monitored.
. .This debate has gone on for 20 years.
It is time to focus on more critical safety
issues." The Air Transport Association
said it "continues to remain neutral
on the issue" and that it "will
work closely with FAA to ensure a smooth
transition should they ultimately decide
to change the age limit."
The FAA says these
retirement age changes will take effect
in two years. The delay in releasing the
NPRM will allow FAA and its Age 60 Aviation
Rulemaking Committee formed last September
to hear from carriers and other stakeholders
on that issue and others.