A group of US Airways pilots has filed a lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration’s head Marion Blakey, seeking an immediate extension to the existing upper age limit of 60 for commercial pilots to 65. The three pilots, part of a pressure group called the Senior Pilots Coalition, will all reach 60 by 20 January 2008, at least a year before the FAA is expected to relax its age restrictions to 65.

They want individual waivers of the age 60 maximum which they say is within the FAA’s existing powers. The FAA has already signalled its intention to harmonise with the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s implementation last November of a new standard raising the recommended age from 60 to 65.

Under current FAA guidelines, any change will not be retroactive, but it has left the door slightly ajar on whether airlines might be able to rehire pilots aged 60-65 after the rule change, saying: “This will be addressed as we draft the notice of proposed rulemaking. We will also consider public comments prior to publishing a final rule.”

In their statement the plaintiffs say: “The legal action was filed…as a last resort, after an unproductive meeting with FAA officials, who indicated that action on the Age 60 rule would not be forthcoming in the foreseeable future.

“To date, the FAA has paid only lip service to the notion of ending age discrimination under the Age 60 rule. Even though FAA administrator Blakey acknowledged in a major speech on 30 January 2007 that ‘the time has come’ to change the Age 60 rule, her office has proposed a vague timetable for action and has refused to grant individual waivers of exemptions to the rule during the interim.”

Source: Flight International