Air Transport World

Gray matters.(REGULATION)

When US Airways Capt. Lewis Tetlow was forced to retire as a commercial airline pilot upon turning 60 last April under longstanding US FAA regulations, he gathered his rod and tackle and went fishing for two days. That was the extent of his life of leisure. Since then, he has spent a large portion of his time on Capitol Hill lobbying Congress to raise the mandatory retirement age for US airline pilots.

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Tetlow is one of many who are seeking the change. In fact, by the time he reached for his fishing pole, FAA Administrator Marion Blakey already had stated that the agency was ready to rewrite the so-called Age 60 rule to bring it into line with the ICAO standard adopted in November 2006 that permits one pilot in a two-pilot crew to be over the age of 60 (but under the age of 65).

The new standard, which came about after an ICAO panel determined that there was insufficient medical evidence to support a restriction based solely on age, put the US at odds with other parts of the world, where airline pilots are permitted to fly after they reach 60. But Blakey's proposal comes too late for Tetlow and thousands of pilots who have retired since the standard took effect or who will do so between now and the promulgation of a final FAA rule. As she stated in January, "It is our intent that this new rule will apply to pilots who have not yet reached 60 by the time the rule goes into effect."

Blakey's decision to adopt the ICAO standard came not long after she formed an Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee to examine whether a rationale exists for maintaining the Age 60 limit that was adopted in 1959 at the urging of legendary American Airlines Chairman C. …

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