TOKYO -- The Japanese government will consider extending the retirement age for pilots by one to two years from next fiscal year.
The growing number of flights operated by budget airlines has led to an acute need for more cockpit crews across the whole of Japan's airline industry.
Japan and many other countries require pilots to retire at 64. Japan's transport ministry raised the age limit to 62 in 1996 and to 64 in 2004. There have been no major operational problems reported in relation to pilot age since these two changes. This has prompted the government to review the age limit again, ahead of other countries doing so.
Plans under discussion also include a relaxation of the limit on flying hours and the use of non-Japanese pilots. These plans will be presented to a meeting of experts that will meet Friday.
A shortage of pilots is becoming increasingly serious, especially among budget carriers. Unlike full-service airlines, budget carriers are not financially equipped to conduct in-house training. They have been calling on the government to ease the age restriction so they can capitalize on a expanded pool of talented pilots.