Age-65 Law Signed By Bush
Itís amazing how fast things can move in Washington when the right people want them to, as older pilots discovered to their almost universal delight late Thursday. On Tuesday morning, a proposal to raise the mandatory retirement age for airline pilots to 65 was mired in a political scrap over how the FAA should be funded. On Thursday, it was the law of the land, and a welcome birthday present for American Airlines pilot Frank Walters, one of a handful of pilots who woke up Thursday on their last day of work and went to bed with five years left in their careers "I'd been waiting for the legislation to pass," Mr. Walters told The Dallas Morning News. "I just didn't know when." Late Tuesday, the House voted to approve a separate bill on the retirement age and the Senate followed suit on Wednesday. President Bush signed the new law on Thursday night. While itís probably safe to say that most older pilots supported the career extension, most pilots unions did not and the Allied Pilots Association wrote an 11th-hour appeal to Bush asking him to veto the bill. "Mandatory age 60 retirement for our nation's commercial airline pilots has proven to be a highly effective safety regulation since its establishment in 1959," APA President Lloyd Hill wrote. His counterpart at Southwest Airlines, Carl Kuwitzky, disagreed. "Experience counts," he told The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "The legislation will enhance safety by ensuring we keep our most experienced pilots flying longer."