AARP Opposes Age 65 Retirement for Charter/Frax Pilots

 - April 20, 2018, 10:01 AM
Barton Cole, who logged more than 11,000 flight hours over his career, went to work for NetJets in 2004. He flew professionally for 12 more years until he voluntarily retired from NetJets at age 72. A proposal in the FAA reauthorization bill would have clipped his wings at age 65.

Highly influential U.S. association AARP is opposing a manager’s amendment in the FAA reauthorization bill that would impose a mandatory retirement age of 65 for certain Part 135 charter and Part 91K fractional pilots. “AARP has long opposed mandatory retirement; using an arbitrary age as a proxy for competence is wrong in any occupation, and it is wrong for pilots,” AARP wrote in a letter to House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman Bill Shuster and ranking member Pete DeFazio.

“Pilots should be judged on the basis of their individual ability, flying skills, and their health, not on stereotypes or mistaken assumptions about their fitness based on age,” the association, which has 38 million members, told the congressmen. “The pilots affected are already subject to twice-yearly medical certifications and ‘check ride’ tests of fitness and competency to fly. AARP supports requirements for testing and exams that are designed to measure the job-related characteristics needed to do the job. If different or additional types of tests are needed, the focus should be on determining that.”

AARP argues that the proposal is not about safety. “Otherwise, it would not have a coverage threshold of 100,000 flights per year, which apparently applies only to one company,” it notes. That company is NetJets.

“The shortage of pilots facing carriers—a circumstance due in no small part due to the impending mandatory retirements of boomer-generation pilots—has some experts proposing that the mandatory retirement age for [airline] pilots be increased,” AARP said in the letter. “A proposal to impose a compulsory retirement age on pilots who currently are not subject to one is a proposal headed in exactly the wrong direction.”


I'm surprised no one else has commented on this issue. I think AARP is right in there assessment and response to this situation and more of everyone in the aviation community should be supporting this position. We need to actively voice this support before our pilot shortage reaches a crisis level.