Polls & QuizzesPoll: Should The Airline Retirement Age Be Extended Beyond 65?By Paul Bertorelli - Published: May 22, 20224PrintEmailFacebookTwitterLinkedin Poll: Should the Airline Retirement Age Be Extended Beyond 65? Poll: Should The Airline Retirement Age Be Extended Beyond 65? No way. Maybe 66. Maybe 67. Maybe 68. Other Δ
I am so glad I was forced to retire at 65. I was fully committed to airline flying and loved it. Until about 4 days into my retirement when I looked at the alarm clock that usually went off at 4am and turned it around so it faced the wall. For all of the glory of aviation , it takes up too much time and has too many hassles.
I’ve been an Aviation Medical Examiner for 40 years (and a pilot for 53), and it is clear to me that individuals vary widely. Some pilots are losing the edge at 55, others are energetic, sharp and still on top of their game at 75. The original age 60 rule was entirely arbitrary, pulled out of thin air by a committee of non-aviators at the AMA. There have not been safety-related problems since Congress raised the age to 65. There is no reason why pilots who are sharp, who continue to pass every-six-month medical exams and perform well on recurrent training and checkrides to fly to 68 or even 70.
Obviously it won’t be for everyone, and contracts should be structured so that those like William B who are just too tired for the airline life at 65 or earlier can retire without penalty. The number of forcibly-retired airline pilots who jump to flying equally sophisticated jets under Parts 91 and 135 are testament to the foolishness of a one-size-fits-all mandate to throw them out of airline cockpits at 65.
Correction: There is no reason why pilots who are sharp, who continue to pass every-six-month medical exams and perform well on recurrent training and checkrides NOT to fly to 68 or even 70.
I fly a King Air 200 single pilot on corporate flights–I have over 11,000 hours in King Airs, and fly them between 350 and 600 hours a year. I normally fly single-pilot–but do have the option of having a copilot if the trip will be difficult (weather, duty time, busy airspace, or “if I just feel like it.”) I often take a younger pilot along just to give them the experience on turbine aircraft.–and often take my Private Pilot wife along. I’m typed in 6 jets, but don’t have one to fly today. People ask about flying the King Air single pilot–I respond “It’s under 12,500#–what’s the difference between flying it or a Baron–are you proposing to ground anyone over 65?” The King Air is easy to fly and well equipped–and nearly every flight is IFR–but little “in the weather” time in the flight levels. I’m in good health–take my flight physicals at Mayo Clinic–and take an insurance-mandated training and check ride every year.
If people are worried about pilot incapacitation–perhaps they would be more comfortable if the age were LOWERED to the 30’s– (witness the Caravan pilot incapacitation). All in all, pilot incapacitation is something to CONSIDER–but age alone is not an issue. I’ve seen studies that show NO CORRELATION between accidents for older pilots (with the exception of gear-up landings) and the general pilot population. Most older pilots don’t HAVE to fly due to schedules–they (like ALL pilots) have the option to refuse a flight. Also, many older pilots are retired professionals–who have no problem refusing a flight.