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Sat, May 26, 2007

ALPA Changes Its Mind On Age 60 Rule

Will Support Adoption Of ICAO Standard, But With Provisions

In a significant departure from its longstanding opposition to changing the FAA's Age 60 mandatory retirement rule for pilots, the Executive Board of the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) voted Thursday by an overwhelming 80 percent margin to end the union's longstanding support for the current rule.

"The Executive Board spoke clearly this afternoon," said ALPA president Capt. John Prater. "ALPA pilots will be fully engaged in shaping any rule change. Any legislative or regulatory change needs to address ALPA's priorities in the areas of safety, medical standards, benefit issues, no retroactive application of change, liability protection, and appropriate rule implementation."

ALPA tells ANN it will now turn its attention towards advocating several priorities contained in the resolution, including working to insure the FAA includes language to prevent retroactive application of a change to the Age 60 Rule -- that is, pilots who were forced to retire at age 60, before any change in the mandatory retirement age to 65, wouldn't get their jobs back, unless they applied and were hired as new pilots. They would forego any prior seniority.

The union will also work to ensure stronger liability protection for airlines and pilot unions in implementing a change to the rule, and that a change to the Age 60 rule won't reduce a participant's or beneficiary's accrued healthcare or retirement benefits. ALPA also opposes additional age-related diagnostic medical testing, and any attempt by the FAA to obtain greater access to pilot medical records.

The union will also support a recommendation by FAA Air Surgeon Fred Tilton to require a 1st Class Medical certification every six months for pilots over age 60.

In a departure from the FAA's push to adopt an "age 65" rule in line with current ICAO standards, ALPA says it will push the agency to drop the ICAO requirement that at least one pilot in the cockpit be under the age of 60 for flights within the United States, once appropriate data on pilots over the age of 60 is obtained from the field to support such a move.

ALPA also supports a pilot's right to retire prior to the mandatory age without penalty, and will continue to lobby for the adoption of a bill which would provide full PBGC benefits to pilots who retire at age 60.

The union states the "high likelihood of rule change through either the legislative or the regulatory process, as well as survey data from ALPA members overwhelmingly affirming that if the rule is going to change, ALPA needs to influence that change" prompted the union to change its mind on Age 60.

As ANN reported, earlier this month, ALPA joined forces with Northwest Airlines to protest any change to Age 60.

FMI: www.alpa.org, www.faa.gov

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