How Old Can Pilots Be?
The ability to make a living flying an airplane is a gift that many pilots hold onto. Unfortunately, they can’t hold onto it forever. In most cases, the limit is your 65th birthday.
All careers must end, but not all careers are subject to the regulations that pilots must contend with. At age 60, pilots are subject to stricter regulations. Most of these age-related rules are predetermined by the International Civilian Aviation Organization, or ICAO for short.
The ICAO is the U.N. agency responsible for determining and regulating aerial safety at an international level. Additionally, each individual country is free to implement their own aviation laws domestically, including any age restrictions.
But for now, let’s take an in-depth look at ICAO’s age regulations and list a few locations that have extended their cutoff age.
The Official ICAO Rules on Pilot Age
Back in 2006, the ICAO introduced a new rule which increased the age limit by five years for commercial pilots flying two-pilot aircrafts. This made it possible for pilots to fly even longer, if certain stipulations, such as flying aptitude, are met.
Here are the official rules:
184.108.40.206 A Contracting State, having issued pilot licences, shall not permit the holders thereof to act as pilot-in-command of an aircraft engaged in international commercial air transport operations if the licence holders have attained their 60th birthday or, in the case of operations with more than one pilot where the other pilot is younger than 60 years of age, their 65th birthday.
220.127.116.11 Recommendation.— A Contracting State, having issued pilot licences, should not permit the holders thereof to act as co-pilot of an aircraft engaged in international commercial air transport operations if the licence holders have attained their 65th birthday.
To review: after age 59 pilots are not permitted to act as pilot-in-command on international flights. Unless, of course, something bad happens to all other pilots on board. Also, if your co-pilot is younger than 60, then you can act as pilot-in-command as long as you are under 65.
Beyond Age 65
As mentioned above, there are countries that do not implement ICAO regulations. However, they are a bit hard to track down. For example, Japan increased their pilot age restriction in 2015 to year 67.
The following countries have no age restrictions on pilots:
- Costa Rica
- New Zealand