Pilots: FAA Could Act Now to Ease Pilot Shortage and Summer Flying Season Frustrations, Dangers

Leave No Pilot Behind: FAA Administrator Blakey Urged to End 'Age 60 Rule'

Discrimination and Get America's Most Experienced Pilots Back in the Air to

Minimize Problems

Aug 01, 2007, 01:00 ET from Senior Pilots Coalition, Washington, D.C.

    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
     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
     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.