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Where Have All The Senior Pilots Gone?

by John M. White |

In 2007 Congress hurriedly passed a law increasing the mandatory retirement age for airline pilots from 60 to 65; however, as usual the law is considered flawed by those most affected by it. The Senior Pilots Coalition has been fighting the law in the courts as less than 60 of the more than 3,000 pilots affected by this law have yet to be returned to flying status by the airlines. The act, titled "Fair Treatment for Experienced Pilots Act" which was signed into law in December 2007 has not returned those most affected by the age 60 rule to flying status with U.S. air carriers. More than 90% of the pilots affected by the age 60 rule are veterans of Vietnam and the Gulf War. A spokesman for the group, Lewis J. Tetlow, a Vietnam War veteran and former US Airways captain said "This is truly a Memorial Day shame for America. It makes me sick to my stomach to think that Congress deliberately stripped nearly 3,000 Vietnam and Gulf War veterans of their livelihood, their on-the-job seniority and even their basic right to seek redress in the courts. We are talking about the cream of the crop of American airline pilots who U.S. airlines have now been given carte blanche by Congress to discriminate against at will." So far the FAA has failed to get the court to outright dismiss the challenge to the 2007 law by the Senior Pilot's Coalition. Could it be that the U.S. airlines are using this rule to reduce operating costs even further? While I don't question the quality of the remaining pilots, it still seems a shame to lose all of that experience in one fell swoop. I recall the DC-10 accident in Iowa where afterwards no other pilots could accomplish the same result as the captain when the conditions were replicated in a simulator. Who says experience doesn't count? Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7

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