FAA Will Examine Age-60 Rule

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The FAA last week established a forum of airline, labor and medical experts to review the long-debated rule, established in 1959, that requires airline pilots to retire at age 60. The forum will recommend whether the U.S. should adopt the new International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standard, due to take effect in November, that will allow one of the two pilots on the flight deck to be over age 60. The forum also will determine what actions would be necessary if the FAA were to change its rule. "The FAA must ensure that any future rule change, should it occur, provides an equal or better level of safety to passengers," said FAA head, Marion Blakey.

"I'm looking forward to hearing from the experts so the FAA can make informed decisions as the ICAO standard is implemented and Congress considers this issue." Capt. Duane Woerth, president of the Air Line Pilots Association, which has long opposed changing the rule, will serve as co-chair of the committee. He said he will ensure that the review is based on "sound science and safety risk." Air Transport Association President James May was also appointed as committee co-chair. Many changes over the years have come about due to FAA efforts to be in sync with ICAO, from adding a "K" to airport identifiers to changing the vertical separation rules in the flight levels. Those who want to keep the age-60 rule status quo may have to mount a strong resistance and rationale to buck the ICAO tide. The committee has just 60 days to complete its review.