Proposal May Be Removed In Compromise
Overshadowed in the
significance House Resolution 2881 -- the House of Representatives
plan for FAA funding reauthorization -- represents to general
aviation, was a proposal of great importance to commercial airline
pilots, as well.
Older airline pilots fighting to raise the mandatory retirement
age fromn 60 to 65 won a big victory Thursday, as the House passed
the "FAA Reauthorization Act of 2007" -- which contains language to
do exactly that. As ANN reported, the bill
passed the House by a 267-151 vote.
"We're over another hurdle and on to the next hurdle," Southwest
Airlines captain Paul Emens, who is chairman of Airline Pilots
Against Age Discrimination, told the Chicago Tribune.
Speaking of hurdles, the proposal probably hasn't cleared the
biggest one yet. The House plan will have to be reconciled with the
Senate's plan, which should be passed in the next few weeks. The
current Senate plan, S.1300, also includes language raising the
retirement age... but that language could be tossed before it comes
to vote, or before the final compromise bill is approved.
The Tribune notes the House vote on H.R. 2881 fell short of the
2/3 majority required to override a presidential veto... which was
also threatened this week.
The issue deeply
divides airline pilots, and their unions. Older pilots,
understandably, are all for anything that keeps them in the cockpit
-- and earning a paycheck -- five years longer; younger pilots,
hoping to ascend through the seniority ranks as older pilots
retire, are opposed to keeping those older pilots flying.
Several groups opposed to the plan also say older pilots may
pose safety concerns... including fatigue and health issues brought
on by older age.
"For us, it's a no-brainer," said Gregg Overman, spokesman for
the Allied Pilots Association, which represents American Airline
pilots. "As far as we're concerned, age 60 should continue to serve
as a highly effective safety regulation."
The FAA also reportedly has a plan in the works to raise the
retirement age to 65, to bring US carriers in line with
Emens notes it could take months for Congress and the White
House to hammer out details... and in that time, 600 pilots will be
forced to retire.
"We're fighting for the careers of people who are at risk," he
said. Pilots forced to retire at 60 won't be able to go back to
their jobs at the level they left, if Age 65 is adopted after they