...As ALPA Considers Change

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Under International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) regulations, airline pilots from more than 180 countries can fly into the United States up to age 65. More than 40 other countries have raised their pilot retirement age to 63 or 65. For years, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) has stood by the age-60 rule, despite grass-roots lobbying by pilots seeking to change it. Now, the union is reconsidering its stance. Last September, ALPA's executive board voted unanimously to begin a thorough review of its position on the rule. The union plans a communications effort to educate its members about the rule and will take a poll this year to gauge their feelings about it. "This reexamination will help determine ALPA's future position on mandatory retirement -- whether it be to maintain or change the Association's policy," ALPA said in a statement on its Web site. It will be ALPA's first major re-examination of the rule since 1980. (When the rule was issued in 1960, ALPA opposed it, but in 1980 decided to support it.) ALPA's policy on the age-60 rule will not necessarily affect the rule itself, which is mandated by the FAA. The FAA so far has shown little interest in changing the rule. Administrator Marion Blakey has proposed raising the retirement age for air traffic controllers from 56 to 61, to help stem the anticipated shortage, but no such shortage is foreseen for pilots.