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mandatory retirement age for pilots

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mandatory retirement age for pilots

Old 3rd Mar 2008, 12:07
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mandatory retirement age for pilots

interesting case, this. your thoughts? I'd have personally thought that experience counts for a lot in your game, but do reaction times slow down a lot past 60?
Ian Shoesmith
BBC News
[email protected]

By Alan Jones, PA News Industrial Correspondent
A helicopter pilot who was told he could not fly solo after turning 60 claimed age discrimination today in a test case which could affect hundreds of other pilots.
Ian Evans, from Kedington in Suffolk, argued that the Civil Aviation Authority was in breach of age discrimination laws and said he was perfectly fit and healthy enough to continue with his job.
Under CAA regulations he was told he could not pilot a helicopter by himself if he carried fare-paying passengers following his 60th birthday last April.
The start of his Employment Tribunal hearing in central London was delayed for an hour so that extra tables could be carried into the room to hold more than 100 files connected with the case.
Captain Evans who has flown Tony Blair, David Cameron and Nelson Mandela around the UK, said he wanted to continue working until he was 65 and saw no reason why he should have to retire.
The CAA is contesting the charge of age discrimination and will call a number of expert witnesses over the 10 days set aside for the hearing.
Capt Evans, who flew helicopters in Northern Ireland when he was in the Army, said he was losing work worth up to #20,000 a year because of the age restriction.
He has continued with certain types of work such as flying private helicopter owners and some aerial work.
He told the start of the tribunal that he had successfully taken 40 medical tests over the past 20 years.
It made "no sense" to force helicopter pilots such as him to retire at 60.
Capt Evans said there were no such restrictions in many other countries including the US, New Zealand, Germany, Canada and Switzerland.
He told the tribunal there had been 503 helicopter accidents between 1987 and 2006 but only 21 of these involved pilots over the age of 60.
Pilots of aeroplanes were allowed to continue working until 65, the hearing was told.
Capt Evans, who is seeking damages against the CAA, accused the authority of treating him with "disdain".
The case was adjourned until tomorrow.
shoey1976 is offline  
Old 3rd Mar 2008, 12:22
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Ian... They "key" to this is not likely "reaction times" or "experience" etc. It is legal to fly to 65, but crucially as "multi-crew" AFAIK. The 60 limit applies to single pilot operations... and is therefore likely medically based on the probability of incapacitation. I am presuming my fixed wing ideas above apply to rotary as well.

Given drivers have additional tests etc. at 70?, and these have presumably been justified / challenged, I would imagine the CAA have to draw the line somewhere. The case will no doubt determine whether 60 is judged appropriate...

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Old 3rd Mar 2008, 13:48
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I was forced to retire some time ago, on my 60th.birthday, when I wanted to carry on.

Suffice it to say that I still hold a Class One medical and now work in the training sector.
I still teach aerobatics, instrument and multi-engine flying, test fly and examine.

I also ride a motorbike, sail, run (occasionally) and walk (regularly) 10 -15 miles over rough country, because I love it.

Am I not fit enough to do the job ? Indeed I am probably more fit than a lot of present day teenagers.
It is fact that, apart from external hassle, the job gets easy as you get older.

The daft thing is I can now fly with another "unqualified" person but I can't continue, on larger aircraft, when in company with another "qualified" person.
I can still do the former at night and also when the weather is bad.

The bottom line is some will be OK at 70 and some will be useless at 45.
Some will want to carry on as long as a medical allows and some will want (and can afford!) to retire much earlier.

It's just a case of finding some way to assess each situation on merit instead of a blanket ban on pilots who either wish or need to continue over the present limit.

PS. I do wear specs now and weigh a little bit more than when I was 20 !
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Old 3rd Mar 2008, 14:19
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well said, age is relative. we (the drivers airframe) need to come up with a quantifiable limit, not age based! Its easy for the neddies to say 55, 60, 65 etc..What do they know? Its our own fault I think? If any colleagues out their have some info lets educate them..Ie, 68 years old but fit as a fiddle and good operator with most importantly a heap of experience (how to avoid trouble).

A lot of us would rather spend this time with grand kids, sailing, or at the flying school down the road.

It`s about options - those that want to stay can until they reach the quantifiable limit and those that want to sail should be able to go. The risk is as soon as the age limit goes up the neddies make sums and hmmmm.

Open discussion!
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Old 3rd Mar 2008, 14:26
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Shoey the continuance to age 65, as part of a multi-crew cockpit, is dependent on the other member being under 60 yrs of age. There are other restrictions as well, which have been discussed on PPRuNe previously. I believe the restriction has just been lifted in the USA and requires the over-60 to undergo 6-monthly medicals and line-checks. We all age at different rates - I wake up every morning feeling like a 25 year-old, but my wife won't let her in!
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Old 3rd Mar 2008, 15:27
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More information about the case here:

Whatever the theory about increased risk, the US age rule works works in practise. Same in Australia I think. So two of the biggest countries in the world with lots of helicopter ops allow single crew after 60 but that's not good enough for the British CAA that stops single crew at 60.
The stats don't show any evidence of fatal accidents caused by 60+ pilots having heart attacks.
Sure, have more frequent medicals, but the British rule means the end of many helicopter pilots careers at 60.


Last edited by Bronx; 3rd Mar 2008 at 16:01.
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Old 3rd Mar 2008, 16:24
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over-60 to undergo 6-monthly medicals and line-checks
FAA Class 1 medicals only have a 6 month validity*, crews have to do recurrent training plus a proficiency check each year, so i dont see any difference in either their medical nor checkrides that are age related. (*FAR121)

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Old 3rd Mar 2008, 17:19
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The extension to age 65 (subject to Presidential approval) will mean bi-annual line-checks, whereas for the under 60's it is an annual check. No change to the required simulator checks.
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Old 3rd Mar 2008, 21:01
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Shoey - you will hear the sound of many axes being ground on this one. I suggest you talk to your local flying club, where the axes are smaller and quieter,and get the views of whoever is responsible for flight safety.

I don't enjoy that privilege, but I suspect that where I fly you would be told that there is not much correlation between age and safety - except that one way or another, unsafe pilots tend to leave the business early.
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Old 3rd Mar 2008, 21:30
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I flew (MPA) until I was (compulsory) retired at age 65 and didn't feel any different to when I was 40.

Although I can't fly the real thing any more, I am still teaching and examining in the simulator and still hold a Class One medical without any restrictions (apart from having to carry a spare pair of specs).

I agree with a previous poster that some pilots that I have met have been knackered at 45!
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Old 3rd Mar 2008, 21:45
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... and on the TV programme about ageing and long lives the other night, 3 examples were given. Okinawa where they seem to be 60 when they're 80 or more and 110 isn't unknown(Tai Chi and Tofu); Sardinia where there's lots of centenarians in a few families (a strange gene) and California (exercise mad vegetarians who believe in the afterlife)....

One of the latter was a doctor still doing major open heart surgery at 92.. who said "... of course I don't tell my patients I'm 92" that wouldn't be very sensible now, would it
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Old 3rd Mar 2008, 23:19
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Why should anyone who has enjoyed a long and fruitful flying career want to deprive many young, experienced and highly capable pilots of a job or the prospect of promotion to the left seat? So you have flown Tony Blair and David Cameron about, is anyone supposed to be in awe of that? If you feel your experience is so invaluable and you enjoy flying for the sake of flying why not join your local flying club and become a flying instructor? When I am 60 (hopefully before) I will do the decent thing and retire and let someone else have a decent chance!

A 92 year old surgeon can burry his f*** ups, most professional pilots cannot!

Last edited by Wee Willy McGorbals; 4th Mar 2008 at 00:02.
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Old 3rd Mar 2008, 23:57
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When I am 60 (hopefully before) I will do the descent thing and retire and let someone else have a descent chance!

A 92 year old surgeon can burry his f*** ups, most professional pilots cannot!
Once retired; having done the decent thing to let someone else have a decent chance; and before it's time to bury you, perhaps you might consider spending some time learning to spell.

You know, to enhance your reputation as a young, experienced and highly capable professional!
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Old 4th Mar 2008, 00:18
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Shoey the continuance to age 65, as part of a multi-crew cockpit, is dependent on the other member being under 60 yrs of age.
Just to be clear, this was not part of the rule in the US.

Won't be long until we have two 64-year-olds shooting a night ILS to a crosswind landing like the Lufthansa video. Now don't worry - I know you studs are just as good as you were in the old days - but think about the worst pilot you ever saw, the one who barely squeaked through his checkrides. Now imagine him at 64, and sitting next to his clone in the right seat. Dark and stormy night. Your kids and wife in the back. And not one study on the effect on safety of the rule change.....
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Old 4th Mar 2008, 00:48
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Dear Dead Dick,

I am sorry if my mis-spelling causes you offence. Perhaps we could meet on Countdown?
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Old 4th Mar 2008, 02:13
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I don't buy this "old guys should retire and give the young guys a chance". That smacks too much of the green eyed monster. It would be interesting to see what the relative medical failure rates were of the over and under 60s. I've no idea what they are, but given that most people accept that a line has to be drawn somewhere I'd be interested to see the numbers the CAA are basing their decision on.
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Old 4th Mar 2008, 02:35
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Reaction time increasing with age? Er, say that again........
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Old 4th Mar 2008, 06:54
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I agree with hucks ,but these guys bail out as soon as feasable.After 60 ,quote me if i am wrong , only the ones that have it in the blood go on .And that's why they stay so fit ,physically and mentally.

I used to do long night flights ,until being pushed out at 60 , but it never bothered me ,cause I loved it.

Still now , i feel like 35 years old .So maybe one day only medicalwill decide ?

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Old 4th Mar 2008, 07:07
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Huck Sorry, but I don't buy your observation. 'The worst pilot you ever saw, sitting next to his clone' would be just as dangerous a situation if they were 44 year olds. A poor pilot is a poor pilot.......
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Old 4th Mar 2008, 09:04
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We have "on condition" maintenance of our airplanes/helicopters so why can't we have "on condition" maintenance of the 'sloppy link' interface between the cyclic & the collective?
This challenge to the 'dead hand' of the bureaucratic Campaign against Aviation is long overdue in my view.
Parliament made a great mistake in giving these people a free hand to oversee the UK aviation industry, without maintaining some form of public i.e.taxpayer control.
Commercial pilots(& wannabe)pilots have been 'milked' by this unaccountable Quango for far too long, Capt.Evans is to be applauded in his efforts to destabilize these people.
The CAA's remit as I understand it is to a) Oversee the industry & b) Promote the industry. I see very little effort going into to promoting the industry & those who make their living from it!
with fraternal greetings,
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