Thursday, April 26, 2018

Amendment would let NetJets pilots fly until they’re 70



NetJets pilots who hope to keep working well into their 60s may be in luck, after a federal proposal to mandate an age-65 retirement age was revised to age 70.

Rep. Bob Gibbs, a Republican from Ashland, this week introduced a compromise age-70 retirement mandate with bipartisan support, as an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill in Congress. Because of its narrow definition of what pilots are affected, it essentially covers only pilots flying for NetJets. It would have a yearlong phase-in period.

The proposed amendment is one of more than 240 that have been introduced to the long-simmering legislation.

Since 2009, pilots for commercial airlines have had an Federal Aviation Administration-mandated retirement age of 65. Before then, retirement was required at 60.

Pilots for private jet operators such as NetJets have not been subject to the age-based retirement date. However, they are required to undergo twice-yearly medical exams and tests of fitness and competency to fly.

NetJets has been interested in establishing imposing a retirement age on its pilots, and had previously backed a proposal to apply the age-65 rule for commercial pilots on pilots for NetJets.

“The lack of a pilot age restriction for large private air carriers is a growing concern in aviation safety,” NetJets spokeswoman Kristyn Wilson said in a statement.

“NetJets supports an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill that would impose an age restriction ... that is similar to the restriction that currently exists for commercial airlines.”

“Such a restriction in an important safety measure for private carriers whose flight operations are comparable in size and complexity to their commercial counterparts,” NetJets said in the statement. “We hold passenger safety as our highest priority and we look forward to working with Congress on this common-sense regulation that will make air travel safer for everyone.”

Those opposed to the age 65 retirement requirement gained support last week from the AARP, which sent a letter to leaders of House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee decrying a mandated retirement age.

“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,” said Luke Russell, a spokesman for AARP Ohio, in a statement.

Based in Columbus, NetJets is the world’s largest private jet operator. It originated the “fractional” concept of jet ownership, in which owners buy a timeshare-like share of a private plane, then pay NetJets to maintain and operate the aircraft.

The NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots union had not taken an official position previously, but, according to industry publication Aviation Industry News, the union has given its backing to the age-70 proposal.

The NetJets union told the publication that the proposal would affect about 75 pilots. A union representative declined further comment to The Dispatch.

The retirement-age issue had created some friction within the union ranks, particularly with those at or near age 65. The issue has been discussed on aviation message boards and has been followed by industry publications, with some suggesting that the age-65 mandate was more about cost savings than safety, because older pilots are generally the highest-paid.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.dispatch.com

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