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Thread: Hoot Gibson Article on Airline Flying and age 60 rule

  1. #1
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    Default Hoot Gibson Article on Airline Flying and age 60 rule

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4293785.html

    Is 60 too old to be a pilot?
    Question raised as ex-astronaut forced to retire from airline job

    By BILL HENSEL JR.
    Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

    Robert "Hoot" Gibson was not the happiest camper Friday, despite a party in his honor.
    Not only was the longtime astronaut piloting his last commercial airline flight because of a forced retirement, but the flight was five minutes late, to boot.

    Gibson, a colorful member of NASA's elite astronaut corps who commanded four of the five space shuttle missions he flew, is ending a 10-year run with Southwest Airlines because he turns 60 on Monday, the mandatory retirement age for pilots in the U.S.

    Gibson calls it blatant age discrimination.

    "I'm not ready," he said.

    He makes his complaint at a time when there's a chance the rule, enacted in 1959, could be changed, although whether it will remains to be seen.

    The Federal Aviation Authority has launched a review to explore a possible change.

    But the agency has made it known it doesn't want to act without a congressional mandate. Lawmakers could vote on pending legislation later this year.

    Next month, the International Civil Aviation Organization is set to adopt a new worldwide standard of age 65 for commercial airline pilot retirement.

    The organization believes member countries should increase the age limit, as long as the second pilot in the crew is below 60 and all pilots over 60 undergo a medical assessment every six months.

    The U.S. is one of four countries that disagrees with the organization's change. The others are France, Pakistan and Colombia.

    A cadre of senators who want the age limit changed wrote a letter to FAA Administrator Marion Blakeley several weeks ago noting that foreign pilots over 60 will be allowed to work and fly in U.S. airspace.

    "We hope you appreciate ... allowing foreign pilots to work and fly in the U.S. to age 65 without affording U.S. pilots the same privilege will not sit well with the American people and most members of Congress," the letter said.

    Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, co-sponsored the Senate legislation, a spokesman said Friday.

    But there is a host of opponents, including the Air Line Pilots Association. The pilots' union long has favored the age limit and is not considering a change, said Pete Janhunen, ALPA spokesman.

    But Gibson said ALPA members don't want the change because pilots who retire at 60 enjoy a hefty benefits package.

    Janhunen acknowledged there are "financial implications."

    A study earlier this year by airline analyst Darryl Jenkins determined that Senate Bill 65 would save the federal government almost $1 billion in delayed pension payments and added Social Security, Medicare and tax payments.

    Southwest Airlines, whose pilots are not represented by the ALPA, is on record as supporting a change in the age limit, spokesman Ed Stewart said Friday, as does the Southwest Airlines Pilot Association.

    Southwest's chairman, Herb Kelleher, has sent letters to Washington asking for the change to be considered, Stewart said.

    "It's been in effect since 1959, and the world has changed," Stewart said.

    Houston-based Continental on Friday deferred to its pilots union, which is affiliated with the ALPA.

    Gibson noted that he passes two physicals a year, flies a large assortment of other types of aircraft and runs four miles a day several times a week.

    There's never been an age-related accident involving a commercial aircraft, he said.

    "It ought to be an on-condition type of thing," he said.

    Friends and family attended the party at Hobby feting Gibson, who was chosen as an astronaut in 1978.

    "Nobody can fly a simulator or a shuttle like Hoot Gibson," said former Southwest pilot and friend Dick East.

    Gibson, who is married to shuttle astronaut Dr. Rhea Seddon, retired from NASA in 1995. He was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2003.

    Many passengers on Gibson's last flight Friday came out smiling, such as Cindy Oravecz of Ohio, who flew to Houston to attend the annual quilt show.

    "That flight was a real hoot," she said as she left the plane.

    bill.hensel@chron.com

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Hoot Gibson Article on Airline Flying and age 60 rule

    As long as medical requirements are met. I fully agree that forced retirement at age 60 is not right. I know a couple of pilots that over the next few years will be facing this same situation, and it doesn't sit well with them. They love what they do.

    Lonnie

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    Default Re: Hoot Gibson Article on Airline Flying and age 60 rule

    Hey, as long as they don't go through the air with a blinker on, I'll ride in their bus.......

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    Default Re: Hoot Gibson Article on Airline Flying and age 60 rule

    The main opposition to the change comes from younger guys who count on forced retirements to let them progress up the seniority scale (and to higher pay and better equipment).

    Raising the age would basically freeze upgrades for 5 years and would impact the pocketbooks of many younger pilots.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Hoot Gibson Article on Airline Flying and age 60 rule

    At 60 you can not pilot commercial airline. Does that extend to all commercial? Charter, or freight or instruction or bush pilot, etc.

    Dan Plunkett

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    Default Re: Hoot Gibson Article on Airline Flying and age 60 rule

    I sure would have never guessed that Hoot had reached that age!

    No way does he *look* 60!


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Hoot Gibson Article on Airline Flying and age 60 rule

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy Haskin
    The main opposition to the change comes from younger guys who count on forced retirements to let them progress up the seniority scale (and to higher pay and better equipment).

    Raising the age would basically freeze upgrades for 5 years and would impact the pocketbooks of many younger pilots.
    Counterpoints:

    Airline industry growth takes a bite out of that 5 years. Growth may be slow right now, but in the past has hit double digits.

    More important is that the younger pilots today would then get to spend an extra five years from age 60 to 65 in the high paying left seat of a jumbo. The support of younger pilots for the "age 60" rule has historically changed as they approach the limit...

    The real shame is that we still have this union driven lock-your-career-up-with-one-airline employment model. It is totally ludicrous that a senior, high time, 747 captain of a major carrier can have 30 years and his pension wiped out by a bankruptcy and the only job he can get in the airlines is as a base level first officer on narrow bodies. More than the age 60 rule needs fixing in this industry.
    Eric Ahlstrom

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    Default Re: Hoot Gibson Article on Airline Flying and age 60 rule

    John Crocker had to retired form world Air Ways at 60 Shawn

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Hoot Gibson Article on Airline Flying and age 60 rule

    Here is a link from a Houston tv news report about Hoot retiring, hopefully the ruling will be changed to 65.

    http://www.khou.com/sharedcontent/Vi...hp?vidId=97739

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Hoot Gibson Article on Airline Flying and age 60 rule

    Dag-nabbit, I fly SWA alot and was really hoping to get him as Captain on one of my flights with them.
    _________
    -Matt
    Red Bull has no earthly idea what "air racing" is.

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