Sir - I read with interest Capt de Piednoir's letter "Déja vu with age-60-years ruling" (Flight International, 8-14 January, P37), about a US Federal Appeals Court panel ruling on whether the US Federal Aviation Administration can continue to bar pilots aged 60 years old from commanding US passenger aircraft. The situation in Australia is complicated by a Federal law which precludes the dismissal of an employee because of age, unless the "-termination is based on the inherent requirements of the job".

National carrier Qantas has so far successfully argued in the courts that, since an international pilot may have to fly to the USA, it is an inherent requirement of the job that he be under the age of 60. In consequence, a pilot who flies a Boeing 747 or 767 has a fixed retirement age, but those who operate the Airbus A300 or Boeing 737 do not. Pilots have inevitably converted from one type to another, but a contractual rule precludes bidding "down" to a notionally more junior aircraft type. The US FAA effectively determines the retirement age of Australian pilots.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation recognises the rights and responsibility of each sovereign state to regulate all aspects of its air-transport policy. Whether the USA has the right to dictate how they do so is a question yet to be answered.


Hunters Hill

New South Wales, Australia


Source: Flight International