Congress is discussing a bill which could change the mandatory age for pilot retirement.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Two senior congressional Republicans reintroduced legislation Monday to raise the mandatory retirement age for commercial airline pilots by five years to 65.
Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma and Rep. Jim Gibbons of Nevada said the regulation currently enforced is outdated and changing it over time would save jobs and retain experienced pilots.
"Our nation has hundreds of experienced, skilled, and capable pilots. Unfortunately, they cannot fly for any commercial airline because once they turn 60 they are forced to retire," said Gibbons, a former airline pilot.
Previous attempts to rescind the 44-year-old rule have failed, including one during the last session of Congress by Inhofe and Gibbons.
Absent safety data showing conclusively otherwise, the FAA continues to believe that overall cognitive abilities necessary for being an effective airline pilot may begin to deteriorate at 60.
But some critics have said the rule is an economic tool that benefits airlines because it allows them to replace expensive senior pilots with lower paid ones.
Leaders of the largest commercial airline pilots union, the Air Line Pilots Association, are reviewing the age 60 rule this year to stake out the position of the group's 64,000 members.
Some pilots wish to remain on the job longer to try and recoup wages and retirement benefits lost to the wholesale airline cost cuts of the past few years.
The union believes 60 is an arbitrary age, but also wants to ensure that any change, for which it would have to lobby, would not affect safety.
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