Pilots Protest Age 60 Retirement Rule

 - July 23, 2007, 11:22 AM

A group of current and former airline pilots rallied on Capitol Hill yesterday afternoon to protest the 45-year-old FAA regulation that forces pilots to leave the cockpit once they reach age 60. The group, flanked by Southwest Airlines chairman Herb Kelleher, Jet Blue vice president Robert Land, Sen. James Inhofe (D-Okla.) and Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-Nev.), said that momentum is building in Congress to change the rule. Two pending bills–S.65 and H.R.65–would peg retirement age to Social Security retirement age, allowing qualified pilots to continue flying. Only the U.S., France, China and a few less developed nations have age limits of 60 or less, and the International Civil Aviation Organization recently stated that there is insufficient medical evidence to support any restrictions based on age alone. “We need to eliminate this highly offensive age discrimination rule,” said Gibbons, a former Air Force and Delta Air Lines pilot. Inhofe, an active GA pilot, said that almost half of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) is now in favor of eliminating the rule. The pilots’ union has historically been opposed to repealing the mandatory retirement rule, which traces its history to a late-1950s labor dispute between three airlines and ALPA.