Relief for airline cos: Pilots can retire at 65

New Delhi, Nov 23 | Updated: Nov 24 2005, 05:30am hrs
To tide over the crisis of shortage of pilots, the government has raised the retirement age of professional pilots by four years. In its latest directive, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has notified that professional pilots or pilots-in-command can now retire at the age of 65 against the stipulated maximum age limit of 61 years.

However, theres also a sub-rule attached to the directive for the first time: according to the DGCA guidelines, pilot-in-command who has attained the age of 65 will have to be accompanied by co-pilot who is 60-years-old or younger. DGCA officials said the rider has been introduced as a measure to ensure safety.

According to industry analysts, most countries permit pilots to fly until age 65, such as Japan and Israel. Even the European Joint Aviation Authority (JAA) recently raised their age limit to 65 for commercial pilots. The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) too has recommended that member states, including the United States, adjust to a maximum age of 65 for commercial pilots.

The unprecedented boom in the civil aviation sector has left the airlines both state-owned and private scrambling for trained pilots, particularly commanders. There is a shortage of between 150 and 180 pilots in the two public sector carriers, Air-India and Indian Airlines, alone.

Skys The Limit
Pilots can now retire at 65, instead of 61
Co-pilot must be 60 or below
AI, IA short of 150 and 180 pilots
India will need 4,000 pilots over next 5 years
The situation is likely to get out of control in future as the number of aircraft flying in the country is set to increase from 165 to over 500 in the next five years. Industry experts believe that India will require over 4,000 more pilots over the next five years and the cost of training them will be around $200 million. As per estimates, the DGCAs move to raise the retirement age of pilots would result in adding over 100 trained pilots. This is the second time in the last nine months since the DGCA has raised the retirement age of pilots. The pilots retirement age was last raised in March 2005 to 61 years from 60.