Congress OKs Voluntary Age Limit for Large 91K, 135 Ops

 - January 16, 2023, 11:10 AM
NetJets is among the operators that could establish an age ceiling under a recently-passed congressional measure. (Photo: NetJets)

Large fractional operations and charter operations now have the option of establishing a 70-year-old age ceiling for pilots under a little-noticed provision in the omnibus federal spending bill that was adopted late last month.

The measure is not mandatory but provides the option of a 70-year-old age limit to Part 91K and 135 operators that logged at least 75,000 jet operations a year in 2019 or any subsequent year. This threshold is half the number of hours of an unsuccessful but similar measure offered in the 2018 FAA reauthorization package that had represented a carefully crafted compromise between NetJets and the NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots.

The 2018 measure, however, would have established a mandatory retirement age. Neither the most recent measure nor the earlier one specified NetJets, and in fact the operations threshold is believed to have been lowered to 75,000 so it could apply to more operators.

Originally, the push was for 150,000 operations to ensure that other operators—such as offshore providers or medevac companies—do not inadvertently get caught up in such a new mandate, but a voluntary limit alleviates such concerns. While voluntary, the most recently-passed measure would establish a permanent ceiling if the operator chooses that path—and the operator would not have the option of lifting that ceiling.

Alan Stephens, v-p of regulatory affairs for the National Air Transportation Association, said the measure as passed appeared to be a good compromise between members that did and did not want such a threshold.