No Consensus In Age 60 Debate

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A panel formed by the FAA to advise on whether the agency should increase the mandatory retirement age of airline pilots to 65 has essentially thrown the issue back on the FAA’s lap. About the only thing the panel, made up of airline, union and pilot organization representatives, could agree on was that the issue was “contentious.” The panel, which was struck Sept. 27 by FAA Administrator Marion Blakey, handed its report to the FAA on Friday but the agency hasn’t released it. Panel members are also not saying much but a report by Bloomberg News says six of the 10 panelists voted against changing the age limit but four of those panelists were from the Air Line Pilots Association, which has long supported the so-called Age 60 rule. "It's basically a tie," Clay Foushee, a Washington consultant who was vice president of operations at Northwest Airlines, told Bloomberg "It doesn't really help clarify the matter at all. It's a very politically difficult situation for the administrator." The FAA has been under increasing pressure from some members of Congress and various pilots groups to increase the retirement age from 60 to 65. In a speech last year, Blakey signaled a change in the FAA’s formerly staunch defense of the rule by saying the agency was “neutral” on the issue. Legislation has been proposed to change the rule.