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65 is the new 60…

December 19th, 2007 · 1 Comment

The legislation that proposed an increase of the mandatory retirement age for pilots from 60 to 65 has passed Congress and been signed by the President. It went into effect the minute it was signed, making every pilot born 60 years and one day before the bill was signed by “W” pretty much SOL. Every pilot born 59 years and 364 days before the bill was signed gets to work another five years, should they choose to.

It’s funny tome how the movement to change the mandatory retirement age from 60 to 65 revolved partly around “age discrimination.” How discriminatory is the implementation of this new bill that leaves some pilots out in the cold by mere hours? How discriminatory is being forced to retire at age 65?

The answer is: “No less discriminatory than the previous mandatory retirement age rules were.”

So here we are, gathered together in this “brotherhood” of aviation professionals who are now able to work another five years. As I ranted in my “Age 60 Debate” post back in December of 2005, there are definitely two camps when it comes to our newly established rule. I won’t go into detail again here about how the old farts love it and the young whippersnappers hate it. But I will touch on some things that might happen due to this change that were “unseen.” These are the costs of the rule change. Because our retirment age has increased, expect the following:

- The cost of our group medical insurance will no-doubt increase.
- The cost of our long-term disability insurance will no-doubt increase.
- The cost of our loss-of-license insurance will no-doubt increase.

If you have to increase the length-of-coverage of these plans by five years (and every year older a person gets, they’re undoubtedly considered to be that much more of a risk to the insurance providers), the plan prices will have to increase.

So while the old farts receive an immediate windfall in the form of five additional years of Captain’s pay to help offset the increased costs of the above items, the young whippersnappers get to absorb the increased costs as they endure an additional three-to-five years at much lower first-officer pay levels.

Do I sound like I’m upset by this?

There’s good reason. Because every Captain that flies past the age of 60 results in one fewer first officer upgraded to Captain, my move to the left seat will be delayed. That costs me money over my career. “You can earn it at the end of your career!” you might say. Well, that’s fine and dandy, but earning it towards the beginning of my career allows me to let more money sit in my retirement accounts to earn interest and grow over time. I’d planned to retire at 60 and now I’m forced into making the decision to leave the pay that I’m missing out on by retiring at 60 or working the extra five years to make only some of that money back.

And this is not small money by any means. The difference in my 401K account at age 60 between a scenario where I upgrade at (the company average) 8 years and a scenario where I upgrade at 11 years could be as much as half a million dollars. I might make up ¼ of that by working to 65.

You bet I’m upset.

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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Windsor // Dec 20, 2007 at 4:46 pm

    I feel your pain. F/O’s everywhere just took a big slap in the face. This has far more implications than just letting some old guys fly longer. The ripple effect will be felt by everyone in the business. Personally, I dont want to be flying for an airline past 60, do you?

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