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UK Pilot Takes CAA to Court on Age Discrimination

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UK Pilot Takes CAA to Court on Age Discrimination

Old 10th Apr 2007, 19:55
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UK Pilot Takes CAA to Court on Age Discrimination

The Times - April 10, 2007

Pilot who is forced to retire at 60 fights age 'discrimination' in court

A helicopter pilot who will be forced to retire on his 60th birthday is mounting a legal challenge under new age discrimination legislation so that he can carry on flying.

Ian Evans, a commercial pilot with 35 years’ flying experience, is taking the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to court after it refused to change its policy on solo flying when the laws came into force in October.

His challenge on grounds of age discrimination is the first to be made public. It will also set an important legal precedent because he is challenging the actions of a regulator, rather than an employer. He is self-employed, but he will argue that the CAA is preventing him from working.

The CAA will not issue licences to solo pilots once they turn 60, although it does allow them to fly with another pilot on board until the age of 65. It reviewed the policy when the age discrimination laws came into force but decided that no change was necessary. More than 80 per cent of helicopter pilots in the commercial sector fly solo. In the field in which Mr Evans operates — aerial photography and film-making — solo pilots account for 99 per cent of the business.

“At my end of the market it is all small aircraft and single pilots. There is no question of being able to work with another pilot in a much larger aircraft. That is why this rule discriminates against me,” Mr Evans told The Times. “The law says that actions which stop people working before the age of 65 must be proportionate. I think common sense suggests that these decades-old restrictions should be changed. Pilots are far fitter than they were 30 years ago and we are medically examined every six months. I will present medical opinion which demonstrates this.” ......

The CAA said it was confident that it was not breaking the age discrimination regulations. “The 60-year-old age limit is in line with internationally agreed medical risk factors,” a spokesman said. “We reviewed the restriction when the age discrimination legislation came into force and concluded that no amendment would be recommended.” The discrimination legislation allows for a default retirement of 65, so employers must now “objectively justify” a decision to force staff to go earlier.

That allows for an earlier retirement age for jobs that require strenuous physical activity, such as firefighting. But Mr Evans believes that the case for preventing a pilot flying after the age of 60 can no longer be made. He is also unimpressed by the CAA’s argument that it is bound by international agreements. “Australia, New Zealand and Japan are changing their rules for solo pilots so they can fly until 65, so the reasons for keeping the restrictions here are fast diminishing,” he said.

Mr Evans said that if his case failed at tribunal, he would go to judicial review. He has launched a campaign among other pilots to raise funds. Age Concern has said that it would back him. “The age limit on commercial helicopter pilots is absurd and arbitrary. The CAA has created a policy based on prejudice, and is failing capable and willing pilots,” said Gordon Lishman, the director-general of the charity.

Mr Evans’s case is the first to go public since the law was introduced. However, employment lawyers say they know of almost 600 cases going through private grievance procedures that will soon reach the courts. Sam Mercer, the director of the Employers Forum on Age, which advises companies on the new law, said that because no cases had yet been publicised, many bosses believed it had had no impact.

“An enormous amount of complacency has set in. But it inevitably takes some time for claims to work their way through the system,” she said.
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Old 10th Apr 2007, 20:11
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The pilot posts as Uncle Ian.

More information here: Age Discrimination (Incl Link to Petition)
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Old 11th Apr 2007, 00:28
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Good luck Uncle Ian. Not sure I'll be able to creak my way out in a hurry to a 'fail to stop' at 64 but at least the option will be there if you win. Petition signed.
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Old 11th Apr 2007, 07:21
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Thumbs up Who dares wins

Best of luck Ian,
Good to see you are still fighting the good fight in which ever corner presents itself!
And you looked ever so smart on the Beeb this morning, not your usual uniform eh?


Paul Curtis.
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Old 13th Apr 2007, 08:08
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Cannot see what all the fuss is about this age thingie. My dad was a veteran light aircraft instructor/examiner and was still examing at 81 when he lost his medical!

I believe there is now an upper age limit for examiners of 70 (PPL wise) which was introduced not long after he finished!

Best of luck to our colleague who wishes to carry on till 65!
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Old 20th Apr 2007, 21:16
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From what I know of this UK law, I employ two people in the UK, CAA's only hope is to use the 'Health & Safety' defence, which will really make them sick...!
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Old 24th Apr 2007, 18:12
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Signed as well. Good luck with the case. Daft bl**dy legislation the quicker it goes, the better.
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