A few years ago at a Joint Aviation Authorities Medical Meeting in Geneva, everyone present, including France, agreed that the retirement age of professional pilots be put up to 65. Medical papers and research supported the move.

Many nations went home from the meeting and changed their laws to permit professional flying to the age of 65. The UK Civil Aviation Authority had already permitted such flying to 65; the USA is contemplating a change to 63 initially, and then possibly 65. I am sure this will happen.

Age 65 is now the JAA-accepted age limit. Unfortunately, the French pilots' union did not agree, and France was obliged to issue an "Orange paper" dissenting from age 65, back to age 60 for captains flying over France. The European Aviation Safety Agency however, will not permit dissent. The majority view, backed by a great deal of evidence, is that 65 is a sensible retiring age.

The harmonised view for all the JAA medical opinion is age 65. Company contracts and union opinions should not detract from the modern enlightened view that it is quite safe to fly professionally to the age of 65.

Those of us who are involved in this arena almost every day of our working aviation lives have no problem with taking the age limit even to 70.

Dr Ian Perry

Consultant in occupational & aviation medicine, London, UK

Source: Flight International