Friday, February 02, 2007

ALPA forms panel to address 'Age 60 Rule' change

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), the largest airline pilot union in the world, has issued a statement in response to the announcement by FAA administrator Marion Blakey that the agency will will propose to raise the mandatory retirement age for U.S. commercial pilots from 60 to 65. ALPA's statement says that the union will form a 'Blue Ribbon Panel on Pilot Retirement' to study the issue and develop a response to the FAA administrator's announcement. ALPA had opposed changing the so-called 'Age 60 Rule'.

Here's an excerpt from ALPA's news release on this topic:
"The fact that the FAA is set to put the Age 60 regulation into the rulemaking process is very significant," explained ALPA president, Capt. John Prater, after Administrator Marion Blakey’s announcement at a National Press Club luncheon today. "The FAA is careful to propose rulemaking only when it is convinced that a rule will need to change."

"ALPA policy is to support the rule as it is," Prater said, adding that since 1980 the union has opposed and continues to oppose legislation that would overturn the rule. "However, despite that policy, we cannot afford to ignore the significance of the FAA's announcement. That is why I have decided to form an ALPA Blue Ribbon Panel on Pilot Retirement, composed of representatives from the four of the association's standing committees most logically connected with the Age 60 Issue: Air Safety, Retirement and Insurance, Collective Bargaining, and Aeromedical."

The mission of the panel will be to study the effects of potential changes to the FAA Age 60 Rule and to develop recommendations on how ALPA can address the issue of pilot retirement with the goal of having a positive effect for ALPA members. The committee will uphold ALPA's 75 year-long commitment to ensuring the highest level of aviation safety. The FAA announcement and the formation of the ALPA Blue Ribbon Panel come in the wake of five years of tumult for the airline pilot profession. Furloughs, pay and benefit cuts, and a lack of job growth have put severe economic pressure on airline pilots of all ages and experience levels. The panel will present its recommendations to the ALPA Executive Board, composed of the leaders of ALPA's 40 pilot groups, at its May 2007 meeting.

"While it is impossible to predict what the final FAA rule will look like," Prater said, "ALPA will use its credibility and influence to protect pilot interests throughout the process."
ALPA represents some 60,000 pilots who fly for 40 U.S. and Canadian airlines.