Pilots Retirement Age

 

George Vilven

Former pilot fights for right to fly past age 60
Last Updated: Monday, January 8, 2007 | 1:48 PM ET
CBC News


A former Air Canada pilot who alleges he was discriminated against because he had to retire at age 60 was expected to present his case before the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal on Monday.

George Vilven’s complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission alleges that Air Canada’s collective agreement is discriminatory because of the retirement requirement.

George Vilven alleges he was discriminated against because he had to retire at age 60.

The tribunal has allocated 10 days this month to hear the case.

Vilven said the collective agreement, between Air Canada and the Air Canada Pilots Association, contravenes the Canadian Human Rights Act, and that it should be changed to allow pilots to work until age 65.

“I no longer had a job that I loved, that I had trained for all of my life,” he told CBC News early Monday. “I lost a lot of the comradeship of my friends. It was a bit of a traumatic experience, but I got over it.”

His case is receiving support from the Fly Past 60 Coalition, a group of about 50 pilots interested in the outcome of the hearings.

But it is opposed by the pilots’ association, which voted on the issue last year. A majority of association members voted 3-1 to maintain mandatory retirement at 60 in their collective agreement.

Pilots tested for flying fitness

Raymond Hall, spokesperson for the coalition, said the federal government removed age restrictions for pilots and replaced them with restrictions based on competency, with tests every six months to ensure pilots are still fit to fly.

He said the regular testing gives the public the assurance that competency is not an issue.

Certificates of competency are issued by the federal transport minister.

“There is no law in Canada that requires anyone to retire from piloting profession in Canada at any specific age,” Hall said. “Why should people be forced to retire at a specific, arbitrary age?”

Hall said some pilots who are coalition members have gone to work for other airlines after being forced to retire at Air Canada.

He said Air Canada is out of step with current thinking on mandatory retirement.

A handful of provinces, including Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and Manitoba, have banned mandatory retirement at 65 through amendments to their provincial human rights laws.

Airline employees, along with federal employees and employees of such national organizations as banks and railways, are federally regulated. Therefore, if they think they have been discriminated against, they are required to file complaints with the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

“There’s a realization, primarily in the European Union, that age is just another form of discrimination, like sexual orientation, race, country of origin,” Hall said.

‘You can’t buy experience’: retired pilot

Vilven said mandatory retirement at 60 does not make sense under the collective agreement because competency, not age, determines whether pilots are capable of working.

“I was a much better pilot after I left the company than when I arrived. The main reasons were experience and training. You can’t buy experience. You have to earn it, day by day,” he said.

The pilots’ association, however, has said it is concerned about changing the mandatory retirement from 60 to 65 because it could mean younger pilots will not have the chance to become full captains if older pilots stay longer on the job.

According to Vilven, six out of seven airlines in Canada that fly domestically and internationally allow their pilots to work until 65.

The hearings end Jan. 26.(CBC)

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