Sir - A US Federal Appeals Court panel will rule shortly on whether the US Federal Aviation Administration can continue to bar pilots of 60 years old from commanding US passenger aircraft. The general consensus seems to be that the "Age 60" rule is not based so much on medical or safety issues, but rather is an operational, arbitrary rule.

The paradox is that, while the USA plans to clamp down on "rule 60", many countries, including those in the European Community (EC) are heading in the opposite direction, allowing aircraft commanders to fly past the age of 60 - in general, until 63, or even 65. A recent International Civil Aviation Organisation study shows that about half of the EC member states surveyed issued captain's licences for pilots above the age of 60 (albeit subject to increased medical scrutiny).

There is an obvious conflict in the international community. Is there to be a repetition of the rule-making gaffe of the early 1960s, when the FAA intended to require French airliners being operated into New York to carry an English-language interpreter in the cockpit?

If the FAA means to hinder European airline captains from carrying out their profession for the final three to five years of their careers, then we should expect to see the EC retaliate by putting similar restrictions on US captains.

Beware, colleagues with American, Delta, United, etc - if you are over 55 or so, you might be conducting your last flight to an EC country.



Source: Flight International