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Goverment Seeks to Revoke Lockheed Retirement Policy for Test Pilots

September 29, 1990

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The government is suing Lockheed Corp. over its mandatory retirement age for test pilots.

The lawsuit filed Friday by the Equal Employent Opportunity Commission seeks to allow Kenneth Wier, 59, to keep his job as a chief test pilot past his birthday on Oct. 20. Lockheed requires mandatory retirement at age 60.

Lockheed has warned Wier he will face retirement if he does not give up his pilot’s job and accept a ground position by Monday.

The suit filed in U.S. District Court seeks to overturn the age limit, plus back pay and possible reinstatement for test pilots forced to retire under the policy.

U.S. District Judge Terry Hatter Jr. denied an EEOC motion to temporarily block the retirement policy while the suit is pending. Lockheed officials expressed surprise at the federal agency’s action.

″We don’t know why they decided to do this now, with this pilot,″ company spokesman Jim Ragsdale said.

Lockheed says its retirement policy is based on commercial airline policy, which also mandates retirement at age 60.

″The physical and psychological demands on Lockheed pilots are significantly greater than those placed on pilots in commercial aviation,″ Lockheed lawyers argued in court documents. ″Certainly no lesser standard can be applied.″

Wier, of Santa Ana is currently chief test pilot for the U2 and TR1 reconnaissance plane programs, a job he has held for 18 years, Ragsdale said.

Wier’s record is excellent and his performance has shown no deterioration in the past few years, Ragsdale said.

Court documents say Wier has flown more than 235 types of planes in his 35 years as a pilot. He has flown for Lockheed for 24 years.

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