ALPA Joins Age-65 Discussions

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The Air Line Pilots Association, which has consistently supported the current mandatory retirement age of 60, has changed its tune in light of the federal government's clear intention to boost the limit (with some conditions) to age 65. Members voted 80 percent to drop their opposition to the age limit change so they can have a seat at the table when the fine points of implementing it are discussed. "ALPA pilots will be fully engaged in shaping any rule change," ALPA President Capt. John Prater said in a news release. ALPA's position is pretty much in synch with the proposal put forth by the FAA except in one fundamental way. ALPA wants the FAA to reject the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) rule that only one pilot over the age of 60 be allowed on the flight deck until and unless there is evidence to suggest it's not safe to have all that grey hair up front. ALPA also wants to ensure the rule can't be made retroactive so pilots who have already retired can slip back into the left seat (and their old places on the seniority list). The seniority issue is unlikely to be a concern because the FAA has already said it won't make the rule retroactive, but Congress is also in the mix with a bill pending on the issue so anything could happen. Other ALPA concerns include limiting liability that might result from the rule change, opposing any move toward stricter medical exams for older pilots and making sure the change won't affect anyone's pension.