Commercial pilots want to fly after age 60

Dec. 28, 2004 at 12:34 PM

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., Dec. 28 (UPI) -- Congress and some commercial pilots groups want the U.S. government to let pilots keep working past the mandatory retirement age of 60.

Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee, says better healthcare mean pilot skills don't deteriorate when they turn 60, the St. Petersburg, Fla., Times reported Tuesday.

"When it comes to flying, older and more experienced is better," said Mica. He plans hearings on the Federal Aviation Administration's retirement rule.

Supporting Mica are pilots like Stan Sutterfield, a 54-year-old pilot with Southwest Airlines and the chairman of Airline Pilots Against Age Discrimination.

Even the Air Line Pilots Association, the world's largest pilot union, is reconsidering its long-held support for the rule.

The FAA rule stems from concerns that an older pilot loses flying skills or is more likely to become incapacitated while flying. But advocates of an older retirement age say the FAA's strict safety rules leave little chance that incapacitation would cause a crash.

"There are two pilots on board for the same reason we have two engines on the plane and two types of every (critical) system," said Sutterfield.

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