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Pilots could fly on until they reach 70

JAA medical committee sees nothing against fit crew

The European Joint Aviation Authorities medical committee has agreed that there is "no medical reason" why airline pilots should not be permitted to continue flying until they reach 70 years of age.

The finding has been revealed as an International Civil Aviation Organisation resolution permitting pilots to fly to age 65 was implemented last week.

Speaking at Flight International's Crew Management Conference in Brussels last week, aviation medical consultant Dr Ian Perry said that the JAA medical committee has agreed that a fit 70-year-old should not be prevented from commanding a commercial air transport aircraft on medical grounds.

At the conference, the chairman of the Singapore Civil Aviation Medical Board, Dr Jarnail Singh, who also chaired the ultra-long-range task force and is a member of the Flight Safety Foundation crew alertness committee, said that in examinations of factors affecting crew fitness to work on ultra-long-range flights - such as Singapore-New York non-stop - pilot age was determined not to be an issue.

Perry, meanwhile, said that while airlines find clinical diagnosis of chronic fatigue "difficult to accept", if an accident is fatigue-related the airline is responsible for it. While making it clear that such events were rare, he revealed that the reduced freedom of movement imposed on long-haul pilots by the need to lock cockpit doors has resulted in flightcrew sleeping on the floor behind the pilot seats.

The US Federal Aviation Administration has set up a forum to investigate if US commercial pilots should be allowed to fly past the age of 60, in line with the new ICAO rules.

ICAO has increased the upper age limit for pilots to 65, provided that one of the pilots in the cockpit is under 60. Medical experts and FAA personnel will be joined by representatives from airlines and pilot unions in the Age 60 Aviation Rulemaking Committee to examine whether the USA should follow suit.

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