Opportunities After Age 60

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Healthy airline and cargo pilots who hit the magic (or tragic) number can potentially add five years to their flying lives as of Nov. 23. That's when the International Civil Aviation Organization will formally adopt 65 as the mandatory retirement age for professional big-iron pilots. The FAA isn't going along with the new standard and is maintaining its Age-60 retirement rule. But that doesn't mean there won't be American pilots in their 60s flying airliners and cargo planes over the U.S. All they have to do is get a job with any of a myriad of carriers from dozens of countries that will follow ICAO's standard. "A seeming irony to this is that American pilots who work for a foreign company will remain citizens of the U.S. and, frequently, continue to reside here," says a news release from Airline Pilots Against Age Discrimination (APAAD). "They will fly the same types of airplanes loaded with passengers and freight over the same exact routes as their counterparts who work for American companies." APAAD says foreign carriers are rapidly expanding operations and actively recruiting American pilots. It claims the trend is bad for pilots and the industry as a whole. "Foreign salaries are generally less than those paid at companies such as FedEx," said APAAD President Gary Cottingham. "The increasing number of American pilots who are paid foreign wages will drive the standards down." APAAD is critical of the Air Line Pilots Association's (ALPA) continued support of the FAA's age restrictions, saying it ignores modern trends and conditions and will ultimately contribute to the U.S. industry's being less competitive.