The Office of Technology Assessment has released a report purporting to show that pilots over the age of 60 have far more accidents than pilots in certain younger age groups {"Study Has Good and Bad News for Airline Pilots Over 60," Sept. 18}. As a private pilot, I am sure this report will be seized upon to support the FAA's anachronistic rule requiring mandatory retirement of airline pilots when they reach the age of 60.

Like similar reports before it, however, the OTA study is fatally flawed. By definition, the flight time of the pilots in the over-60 group in the study contained no airline flying time (since, of course, this group is barred from airline flying by the FAA). The flight time in this age group consisted of such inherently more dangerous flying as crop dusting, medical evacuation, pipeline and fire patrol, traffic surveillance and law enforcement.

By contrast, the flight time of the under-60 group contained millions of hours of far safer airline flying, resulting in a classic apples-and-oranges analysis. Filter out the airline flying from the younger age groups, and one will see that the older pilots fly more safely than their younger counterparts.

Readers may wonder why the airline pilots' union supports the discredited over-60 rule. I suspect it is because the union is controlled now by younger pilots who favor accelerated turnover at the top.

DONALD L. HARDISON Great Falls