Representatives of the US Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) have opted to reverse their long-standing support for federal regulations enforcing retirement at 60.

ALPA has long opposed proposed changes to the mandatory retirement age, but now its executive board has voted to end its support for the US Federal Aviation Administration's regulation, deciding its resources would be better spent protecting pilots' interests as new age rules are drafted.

Earlier this year, US legislators introduced a bill to raise the mandatory retirement age of commercial pilots to 65, soon after the FAA disclosed plans to allow one pilot to fly up to age 65 as long as the other is under 60.

ALPA's executive board voted 80% to drop its opposition to changing the age limit, although president John Prater says: "ALPA pilots will be fully engaged in shaping any rule change."

He adds that any legislative or regulatory change must address ALPA's priorities in several areas.

ALPA wants to prevent retroactive application of the rule change, so newly hired pilots over 60, if not already active, cannot be credited with benefits for prior seniority.

It also wants to ensure pilots' retirement benefits are protected, and will oppose any additional age-related diagnostic medical testing and any attempt by the FAA to obtain greater access to pilots' medical records. Pilots should also be able to retire before the mandatory age, without penalty.

But ALPA will also oppose, at least for domestic operations, the ICAO-based FAA proposal that one pilot on each flight be under 60.

Source: Flight International