Here is an interesting one. The FAA today published a Final Rule in the Federal Register that, when implemented, will allow ATC Specialists to apply for waivers of the age 56 retirement rule to allow them to continue to work for up to an additional five years. Currently, 5 U.S.C. 8335 requires that ATC Specialists retire by age 56.
Under the new rule, a request for waiver must be filed by an ATC Specialist no earlier than the beginning of the twelfth month before, but no later than the beginning of the sixth month before, the month in which the Specialist turns 56. The waiver application must include the ATC Specialist’s: 1) name; 2) current facility; 3) starting date at the facility; 4) a list of positions at the facility that the Specialist is certified in and how many hours it took to achieve certification at the facility; 5) area of specialty at the facility; 6) shift schedule; 7) a statement that the Specialist has not been involved in an operational error, operational deviation or runway incursion in the last 5 years while working a control position; 8) a list of all facilities where the Specialist has worked as a certified professional controller (CPC) including facility level and dates at each facility; 9) evidence of the Specialist’s exceptional skills and experience as a controller; and 10) the Specialist’s signature.
Issuance of waiver is discretionary and may be denied by the Administrator. If granted, each waiver is good for one year. However, the ATC Specialist can request that the waiver be extended on an annual basis for a total of five additional years past the existing mandatory retirement age. The Final Rule is effective today and will appear in the regulations as SFAR 103.
I think it is ironic, and somewhat hypocritical, that the FAA has consistently denied airline pilots’ requests for waivers from the age 60 rule, but now, when a shortage of controllers is looming, will allow ATC Specialists to work beyond their existing mandatory retirement age of 56. This certainly didn’t happen during the pilot shortage in the 90’s. It is especially disconcerting that pilots seeking waiver of the age 60 rule have offered to submit to more stringent medical testing to obtain a waiver, and yet ATC Specialists now will be able to obtain a waiver without any additional showing of medical health/condition. Seems to me this is unfair and self-serving rulemaking by the FAA.
Although the rule goes into effect today, the FAA will accept and consider comments on the rule that are submitted no later than February 7, 2005. Identify comments with “Docket Number FAA-2004-17334” and send them 1) electronically via http://dms.dot.gov or http://www.regulations.gov; 2) via U.S. Mail to Docket Management Facility; U.S. Department of Transportation, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Nassif Building, Room PL-401, Washington, DC 20590-001; 3) via facsimile to 1-202-493-2251; or 4) via hand delivery to Room PL-401 on the plaza level of the Nassif Building, 400 Seventh Street, SW., Washington, DC.
Also, for further information you can contact Wanda Reyna, ATO Workforce Services (ATO-A) Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone (202) 267-3056.