WASHINGTON, Aug. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Marion C. Blakey could help to ease the current U.S. airline pilot shortage and minimize inconvenient and even dangerous airline delays by expediting the FAA's elimination of the discriminatory "Age 60 Rule," and putting hundreds of America's most experienced and best pilots back into the cockpit where they belong. With its membership ranks now topping 250, the SPC's motto is: "Leave No Pilot Behind." The Senior Pilots Coalition (http://www.SeniorPilotsCoalition.org) is seeking in D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, DC Circuit to force the FAA to reconsider the agency's decision not to grant waivers to a group of pilots who were arbitrarily forced to stop flying at the age of 60. The FAA claims to be working toward the desired rule change, but has yet to begin the rule-change procedure or even just announce the date for the beginning of that process. SPC President Lewis J. Tetlow, a Vietnam War vet and US Airways captain who was forced into retirement when he turned 60 on April 2, 2007, said: "The FAA needs to get out of the age discrimination business and into the business of making sure there are enough pilots out there to keep our airways safe and airlines flying on schedule. Today, we have an artificial pilot shortage in America and needlessly dangerous, unreliable airline service that could be remedied quickly by putting available pilots back on the job now. It is clearly in the public's best interest to get these most experienced pilots flying again and tapping the added margin of safety that will come from their tens of thousands of additional flying hours." Tetlow added: "It is an outrage that America's airline service has degenerated to the point that we all know too well today. And it is even more outrageous that age discrimination is one of the factors that has helped speed the demise of what once was one of the proudest industries in America and one of the most highly regarded. The FAA is deliberately ignoring an obvious short-term fix that could be put into play almost immediately to significantly improve the quality and safety of airline service during the balance of this summer and in the upcoming holiday season." U.S. airline passengers will lose the services of an estimated 5,000-8,000 of this nation's most experienced and trusted pilots -- many of them Vietnam War and Gulf War I veterans -- if the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) continues to drag its feet on ending its discriminatory "Age 60 Rule," according to the SPC. Under the original Senior Pilots Coalition legal proceeding that demanded immediate action by FAA Administrator Marion Blakey to overturn the "Age 60 Rule" imposed in 1959, three pilots -- Lewis J. Tetlow, of Bedford, N.H., Richard C. Morgan of Charlottesville, VA., and Joseph G. LoVecchio, Lancaster, PA. -- asked the court to direct Blakey "to issue a decision on each respondents pending request for an exemption from a regulation forbidding them from flying as a pilot for their employer after their 60th birthday." A total of 144 pilots hit by "Age 60 Rule" discrimination now have similar legal challenges in the courts and before the FAA. With an estimated 1,200 American pilots already arbitrarily forced out due to age at the rate of about 200 per month, the Senior Pilots Coalition notes: (1) the "Age 60 Rule" was never based on scientific evidence about the age and health of pilots; (2) Americans now live considerably longer and are significantly healthier than they were in 1959; (3) airline pilots, particularly those who have undergone military training, are an extraordinarily fit group, particularly when compared to the rest of the population; and (4) there is no known case on the record of an age related in- air incident or accident attributed to the age of a pilot. Tetlow said: "The 'Age 60 Rule' is an open-and-shut example of age-based discrimination of the worst and most blatant kind. Trust me when I say that these experienced and well-seasoned professionals are not the pilots that Americans want to see given their walking papers." Tetlow added: "The traveling public should be outraged that the FAA grants more rights and privilges to foreign pilots in US air space then it does for our own most experience senior veteran pilots. This is simply absurd. U.S. airline pilots are unceremoniously thrown overboard at age 60, while our airspace remains completely open to non-U.S. commercial airline pilots over the age of 60." To date, the FAA has paid only lip service to the notion of ending age discrimination under the "Age 60 Rule." Even though FAA Administrator Blakey acknowledged in a major speech on January 30, 2007 that "the time has come" to change the "Age 60 Rule," her office has proposed a vague timetable for action and has refused to grant individual waivers of exemptions to the rule during the interim -- assuming that the FAA ever decides to take action on the 48- year-old rule. For a complete copy of the legal filing by the three pilots, go to http://www.SeniorPilotsCoalition.org. ABOUT THE SPC Founded in February 2007, the fast-growing Senior Pilots Coalition (http://www.SeniorPilotsCoalition.org) already has more than 250 members across the United States. SPC is a national pilot organization dedicated to ending age discrimination in the U.S. commercial airline industry.
SOURCE Senior Pilots Coalition, Washington, D.C.