Airline pilots win right to fly into old age

Mandatory retirement age upped to 96

MADRID, Spain -- As a result of talks here between the Federation of Commercial Aviation Pilots (FCAP) and the International Commercial Airline Association (ICAA), an agreement has been announced that would allow commercial airline pilots to continue on the job until the year of their 96th birthday. In a joint news release, the FCAP (the largest collective bargaining organization in the world, representing airline pilots in over 140 countries) and the ICAA (a major airline trade coalition) stated that this new agreement will apply to all current and future pilots and will become effective immediately.

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According to Hans Theelmann, spokesperson for the ICAA, "the deal comes as a result of changing personnel factors within our industry. Our airline members have been adding additional aircraft to their fleets over the past few years as demand for air travel has been increasing. At the same time, however, the pool of personnel trained to pilot those aircraft has been shrinking due to age-triggered, mandatory retirements. Allowing current pilots to stay on the job longer will forestall any immediate personnel crunch and will offer pretty much life-time employment for pilots considering airline industry careers."

Among the adjustments to the new contract are a number of issues that will account for the needs of advanced-aged pilots. For instance, pilots will now be allowed up to 120 minutes of nap time while in flight and 40 minutes while parked at a terminal. Cockpit instruments will be reconfigured with larger readouts, and special, high-fidelity headphones will be available as needed. Moreover, during their annual pilot recertification tests, pilots over the age of 60 will be allowed twice as much time to perform emergency maneuvers as younger pilots.

Justine Polmoir, noted airline industry observer, said that she expects that this policy will rollover into the personnel policies of all airlines by the end of the year.

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