Facing shortage of pilots, Japan plans to raise age limit to 67

Kyodo

The transport ministry plans to raise the age limit for airline pilots from 64 to 67 to address a shortage following increasing demand for flights and the growth of low-cost carriers, government sources said Tuesday.

The Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry is expected to lift the age limit from late April, the sources said.

The age limit was raised to 64 from 62 in 2004.

Faced with the popularity of budget airlines, a lack of pilots has led some LCCs to cancel flights on some routes.

The ministry decided to raise the age limit given the time as well as the cost of several tens of millions of yen needed to train a pilot, the sources said.

Under the new rules, airlines will have to provide stricter health checkups to ensure that pilots aged 65 and over are in good shape, they said.

The ministry plans to limit these pilots’ maximum flying hours to 80 percent of the usual amount — or 80 hours per month and 216 hours over a three-month period. It also intends to put pilots aged below 60 on board the same flights, the sources said.

Another steps the ministry is considering taking to address the lack of pilots is hiring former Self-Defense Forces pilots and foreign pilots, according to the sources.

With the expected changes, the airlines’ management and labor unions will study whether to extend the pilots’ mandatory retirement age.

While the pilots’ age limit in many nations is 64, as set by the International Civil Aviation Organization, some countries including Canada and Australia have no age restrictions.