FAA Draws Commercial Pilot Retirement Lawsuit

April 27, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.COM) - A group of current and retired U.S. airline pilots have taken their battle over the government's mandatory pilot retirement age into federal court, seeking an immediate change in official policy.

Retired Southwest Airlines pilot Michael Oksner, representing about 125 pilots, is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit filed in San Francisco Thursday demanding the government be forced to immediately change the current commercial pilot retirement age – now 60 years old, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The disgruntled pilots charge that keeping the age-60 rule violates their Fifth Amendment right to due process and costs them the wages they would be paid if they could keep flying while the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) thinks things over.

The suit names FAAdirector Marion Blakey and two former officials as defendants.

The FAA is considering easing the rule, but no change could occur under the agency’s plan for at least a year and a half.

The FAA rule has been in place since 1959, when it was instituted as a safety measure designed to offset the supposed declining skills of aging pilots.

In January, Blakey proposed in a Washington speech to revise the U.S. rule to bring it in line with international standards (See FAA Mulling 65 as New Pilot Retirement Age ).

On February 2, the FAA said it plans to file a formal notice of proposed rule making by the end of 2007, then allow an 18-month period for public comment. If the agency does revise the retirement rule, the change would take effect in 2008 at the earliest (See FAA Chief Releases Pilot Retirement Change Proposal ).

Earlier this month, three US Airways pilots filed a similar lawsuit, also seeking an immediate FAA policy change. (See Three US Airways Pilots Try to Force FAA Retirement Rule Change ). .