Age 60 Rule Back Before Congress

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The FAA continues to defend its Age 60 retirement rule for airline pilots in the face of Congressional rumblings about a change in the policy. At a hearing last week, Jon Jordan, the FAA's top flight surgeon, testified that at age 60 people start to experience "a general decline in health-related functions and overall cognitive and performance capabilities." However, Ike Eichelkraut, president of the Southwest Airlines Pilots' Association, told the hearing the rule costs both the airlines and pilots money and takes "the safest, most experienced pilots in the skies" out of the left seat. The issue is being discussed because of bills introduced by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Rep. James Gibbons (R-Nev.) to raise the retirement age to 65. Although individual pilots have long criticized the rule, unions and airlines have supported it in the past. The financial troubles of major airlines and the rise in the number of discount carriers (which don't have fat pension packages) has chipped away at that common front in recent years.