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Wed, Feb 07, 2024

FAA's Whitaker Opposes Airliner Retirement Increase

Additional Study Needed Before Raise, Says Letter

A letter from the FAA opposing the proposed airline retirement age increase has begun making the rounds this week, showing the agency's desire to study the issue more before committing to a change.

FAA administrator Mike Whitaker said it would be "crucial to provide the agency an opportunity to conduct research and determine mitigations", making it clear that he wouldn't give his blessing until he has some stacks of paper to back up the change. Senator Maria Cantwell, committee chair overseeing the issue there, described the would-be bump from 65 to 67 years old would be akin to taking a shortcut, and the FAA isn't one to do that.

"When it comes to raising the pilot retirement age, the FAA has made clear that a scientific and safety analysis must come first. That has not happened. Aviation safety is paramount, and now is not the time to take a shortcut," said Cantwell.

Oddly enough, they're only the most recent among a chorus dragged to the 67-year-old-retirement precipice, with those unions representing working pilots. Airlines for America opposes the measure, not too surprising given the fact that pilots approaching mandatory retirement in Part 121 service are the most experienced - and most expensive to employ. What is something of a head scratcher is the Air Line Pilots Association, the group supposedly representing the interests of those flying the line. Despite the two extra years of earning potential (always a boon when life expectancies remain high, and the economy remains unimpressive), they say the change would harm airline scheduling and cause contract issues. 

At least one airline lobbyist is in the pilots' corner, however - The Regional Airline Association supports the age increase, citing retention of experienced captains. More time with them on the flight deck means greater staffing, fewer cancellations, and more mentorship for those up-and-comers in the right seat.

FMI: www.senate.gov

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