1. Home
  3. Squawk Ident

Squawk Ident


What’s your company’s viewpoint on enforcing a pilot retiring age? What would you suggest regarding such proposal?

pilotAlthough we don’t have a specific age to retire, this event should come when you can no longer be a top-notch and safe pilot who can perform all the normal duties. In our organization, it is possible to stay on in a management position or similar roles after your flying days are over.

Jerry Harrington
ATP/CFI. Gulfstream G650ER
Av Dept Mgr & Chief Pilot
Benson Pacific
San Diego CA


This is not up for discussion. Age should not be a factor for retirement. What should be a factor is the ability to perform safely. We have 3 pilots who are over 70 years old and are all going strong! On the other hand, I know pilots who are well under retirement age with whom I would not fly.

Russ Appleton
ATP/Helo. Falcon 900/50 & MD 500D
Dir of Ops
Manning SC


Our company does not enforce retiring age. They let the pilot determine when they would like to retire, not the insurance companies. When the pilot gets the medical exam, and most likely an annual checkup from their healthcare provider, the checks and balances are used to measure the person’s capability. I’ve flown with multiple pilots in their late 60s and early 70s who have been forced to retire, taking a vast amount of experience and potential teaching moments with them. The insurance companies would no longer support their ability to provide a service because of their age.

Andy Sprott
ATP/CFII. Citation Excel, Falcon 50, Astra, Westwind I & King Air 90
DHB Falcon
Nocona TX


We are a Part 135 operator. Our company does not enforce a retirement age. However, our insurance company just forced us to. We have a pilot who is 82 with more than 35,000 hours of experience in Part 121/135/91 operations over a 50-year career. He still passes an FAA First Class medical each year, and passes Part 135 check rides with no problem. He is as sharp and competent as anyone with whom I fly, but our insurance company refused to renew our policy this year with him on it. Therefore, we were forced to retire him when our insurance policy renewed. We have been told by our insurance broker that the underwriters are pushing to make age 70 the cutoff for insuring pilots for commercial operators. I think it should be based on ability, not an arbitrary age.

Andrew Maroney
ATP/A&P. Citation Excel/Sovereign/CJ3/CJ2
Dir of Ops
Burgess Aircraft Management
Springfield MO


No age discrimination here. My company operates under Part 91, and we just need to pass sim training every 12 months. Commercial requires a Second Class medical for SIC, while ATP needs Second Class medical for PIC.

Harvey Meharry
ATP. Citation XLS+
Chief Pilot
Southern Multifoods
Rusk TX


We do not enforce age retirement. However, insurance drives it. We operate under Part 91.

Everett Clark
ATP. Falcon 2000/50EX & Learjet 45
Chief Pilot
Park City Aviators
Heber City UT


There is no mandatory age limit in my company. As long as pilots  can pass an FAA First Class medical exam and the FAA 61.58 or 135 checks, they can continue to fly.

Harold Coghlan
ATP/Helo/CFII. King Air 200/90
Birmingham AL


Our flight department does not enforce age retirement. We operate under both, Part 91 for the owners, and Part 135 when we have no owner flights.

Jon Erickson
ATP. Gulfstream IV-SP
Chief Pilot & Gen Mgr
Air Lake Lines
St Paul MN


No, they don’t. Here in Argentina, age retirement for pilots in Part 135 & 121 is 65. In the near future, it’ll probably change to 67 or 68.

Gustavo De Ibarra
ATP. Gulfstream V & Grand Caravan EX
Feeling air
Buenos Aires, Argentina


Insurance underwriters are pressuring us to make age 70 a hard rule. Granted, there is always some influence with the underwriters, so retiring at age 70 is probably going to be a firm rule with insurers.

Jeff Hansen
ATP/A&P. Falcon 900/2000, Challenger 300, Gulfstream G150 & Citation CJ4/CJ3
Chief Pilot
Aircraft Services
Salt Lake City UT


Certainly not! My company doesn’t enforce a retirement age. People work as long as they want in my flight department, as long as they can maintain their medical.

Kenneth Gonsalves
ATP. Gulfstream G200
Mississauga ON, Canada


There is no age limit for retirement in my flight department. We operate a Pilatus PC-12, and pilot age is 72. Pilots are required by insurance to have an FAA First Class medical. However, we convinced them it is not required since I do an annual EKG for a special issuance.

Gary Garavaglia
ATP/CFII. Pilatus PC-12/45
Chief Pilot
Pierson Wireless
Statesville NC


In 1994, I joined Las Vegas-based Scenic Airlines. At the time, most captains were retired Part 121 guys from the major airlines, since mandatory age retirement back then was 60. Many felt they still had plenty of skilled and enjoyable flights left, so they continued to fly under Part 135. Our de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otters are 2-pilot crew. I’ve had “almost careers” with Eastern Air Lines right before the strike, and also American Airlines. Since then, I’ve had several other jobs. Now, in my late 70s, I’m currently back with Grand Canyon Airlines. It’s been almost 9 years. I’m still held to the same rigorous and recurrent training standards and ground schools as all our new hires, as well as those twice-a-year FAA First Class medicals. With great daily scenery and life in Las Vegas, if you’re still pretty healthy and enjoy hands-on flying as much as you did when you began, it’s a great job!

Bill Gardner
ATP. de Havilland DHC-6 300
Grand Canyon Airlines
Las Vegas NV


My flight department does not enforce age retirement. And I feel they shouldn’t.

Tim Egan
ATP/CFII. Learjet 60/55/35 & Falcon 2000/900/50
Vero Beach FL


At the moment, we do not have a hard stop point from an age perspective. But I’m sure those talks will be coming shortly as we have an aging group of pilots.

Justin Whyte
ATP. Citation CJ4
Dir of Aviation
POET Biofuel
Wichita KS


We do not enforce a retirement age, and I recommend no change. If a pilot is healthy and competent, we appreciate his/her experience.

John Rempel
ATP. Challenger 300
Dir Flight Ops
Flight North Holdings
Winnipeg MB, Canada


As long as a pilot can pass an FAA First Class medical and flight tests with our training provider, we don’t impose retirement based on age. We value experience with solid decision-making skills.

Cynthia Federici
ATP/CFII. Falcon 2000/LXS
Chief Pilot
GG Aircraft
Ewing NJ


Of course not, there is no age enforcement in my flight department. In Part 91 flight departments, it feels as though professionals need to keep themselves accountable with inventory to stay productive as a team member.

Dillon Massey
ATP. Gulfstream G600/G500
Senior Pilot
Peoa UT


I feel there is no one-size-fits-all suggestion. It all depends on the pilot’s health, the complexity of the airplane, areas of operation, duty time, and a single- or dual-pilot operations. I’m 77 years old, and still fly a King Air 200 all over North America, usually by myself, but we rarely operate into large metro areas. Although I’m typed in 5 jets, the King Air offers the right balance between performance, simplicity, weather capability, and safety, and is certified for single-pilot operations. At my age, flying a King Air is much easier than flying a smaller airplane single pilot in weather or long duty days.

Jim Hanson
ATP/Helo/CFI. King Air 200
Albert Lea Airport
Albert Lea MN


Retirement depends on the health and experience level of the pilot. If your health history is excellent and you pass an FAA Second Class medical and check ride, then you are perfectly fine to go until 80. After 80, it’s not the best idea to risk other people’s lives.

Ronald Nelson
ATP. Citation S/II
Chief Pilot
Aircraft Management Assoc
Hartland WI


Operating under Part 91, we have more liberty concerning age. If a crew member is able to maintain the appropriate medical and is fit for flight, then we hope that they are able to make the decision to retire on their own terms.

Jeff Schneider
ATP. Falcon 2000/900EX
Dir of Flight Ops
Chesterfield MO


I was released from my position with Executive Jet Management in January as a results of the NetJets age 70 rule. When I asked for data where age 70 and above professional pilots were identified as causal in transport category aircraft, I was informed that the data did not exist. I was told that the release of the affected pilots was in the interest of safety. My personal belief is that this was “eyewash.” I believe a pitch to prospective clients could include, “Look how safe we are. We only use younger, vibrant flightcrew members!” Again, my personal belief is that if a professional pilot who is 70 years old or older passes 2 required FAA First Class medical in addition to 2 yearly Part 142 training events, that should suffice. If a reason exists for further investigation, such operational incidents or violations, then that is a separate issue. Discarding years of professional experience seems very short-sighted. Everywhere you turn, you are reminded that age discrimination is illegal – until it isn’t.

Charles O’Hara
ATP/Helo. Challenger 650/605/604/350/300
Lead Captain
Jet Aviation
Haddonfield NJ


I could go to age 80 as long as I pass my class 2 medical, my annual recurrent training at FSI, and we all feel that I’m performing mentally and physically at a high level, like I’ve been since the first day of employment over the past 26 years.

Dave Bassignani
ATP/Helo. Citation CJ4
Senior Pilot
Golden State Lumber
Petaluma CA


No enforcement, only perception. The owner’s wife does have concerns about a pilot being too old, but seems fine with me. I’m 67 years old – I’ll be 68 in a few months – and my FAA examiner, just a week ago, said I’m an example of why airline pilots should be allowed to continue to fly until 67.  My though has always been if pilots can pass their FAA First Class medical and recurrent training, they should be allowed to continue flying. If FAA or the owner want pilots over 67 to have First Class medicals every 3 or 4 months, that’s fine.

Brent Myers
ATP. Hawker 850XP
Aviation Mgr & Captain
Lyon Management
Los Angeles CA


Amandatory retirement age is discriminatory and a waste of resources. There should be no age restrictions for any pilot. If a pilot can pass the required qualification checks and medical certificates for the position, he/she must be considered legal to fly in that position. There are no age restrictions to work as a surgeon, President of the United States, or member of US Congress. Their own union bylaws prohibit discrimination. Yet, they fought the change to age 67 for airline pilots. Age restrictions in any profession limit the supply of qualified workers. This causes the compensation to be higher. Management in corporate and commercial aviation activities should be fighting against all restrictions of age for this reason alone.

David Orr
ATP/CFII. Airbus A321/A320/A319, Boeing 757/737 & Convair CV580
COO & Former Airline Captain
Anthem AZ


Totally disagree with enforcing an age limit. If one is able to pass his/her medical, then so be it.

Nino Desposati
ATP. Gulfstream G650/G550 & Falcon 2000EASy
Sr Captain
Jet Aviation
Danbury CT


My employer has no mandatory retirement age. However, some of my employer’s customers do. Given that medical advances have made it possible for people to remain in good health at much later ages than decades ago, it makes sense not to adhere uncritically to premises about aging pilots from decades ago. Having said that, it is a fact that the human body is at a different place as it ages into the 60s and 70s than for younger ages, and also, the rate at which individuals may age can vary significantly one from another, both physiologically and mentally, based on lifestyle, diet, and genetics. Therefore, I do think that as a pilot ages beyond the 60–65 range, greater scrutiny of the physical and mental health is reasonable. As long as a pilot desires to continue flying and can pass this greater level of scrutiny, I see no need for some arbitrary age limit.

Michael O’Brien
ATP/Helo. Leonardo AW139
AW139 Captain
PHI Aviation
Pensacola FL


The industry uses age because it is the easiest way to manage the exit door. There are individuals who need to be excused way sooner, while others stay sharp and healthy way into their late 70s. If you have management and a flight team who are willing to make the call when enough is enough, then fly on as long as your insurance provider is not pricing your most seasoned pilots out of the cockpit.

Bryan Davies
ATP/CFII/A&P. Piper Aerostar
Savage Capitol
Bartlett TN


We do not have a forced retirement age. However, the industry in which we work has the age set at 65. I believe that you should be cleared to fly as long as you are medically fit.

Stuart Low
Comm-Multi-Inst/Helo. King Air B350/200, Caravan, Airbus H145 & Bell 206L3
Acher Aviation
Durban North, South Africa


I believe non-regulatory forced retirement should be treated as age discrimination, and the companies enforcing these practices should be held accountable. It’s nothing more than a cost-saving measure that decreases wage expenses by getting rid of highly experienced – and highly paid – senior pilots.

Jonathan Jacober
ATP. Gulfstream G650
Jet Aviation
Hatboro PA


Yes, I was just forced to retire at NetJets after 58 years of flying, with 32,000 hours TT and having visited 83 countries. I’m a recipient of the FAA Master Pilot Certificate. Never had any accidents or violations, and I was never fired or reprimanded. NetJets was responsible for the “optional” retirement limit that only is applicable to a handful of Part 135/91K operators. And only NetJets has opted for it, even though they are shorthanded. They got their congressman to slip this into the FAA Reauthorization Act. I feel the law/rule should apply to all or no one, the same as Part 121.

William Goin
ATP. Airbus 320, Boeing 757/737, Challenger 600, Citation Longitude/ Latitude/III/I, Falcon 10, Hawker 700, Gulfstream IV-SP, & Beechcraft 99
Former Captain
Mesa AZ


For Part 91 operators, I think the limiting factor will be their insurance company. I’m a 71-year-old ATP/CFII with more than 1000 hours in type. And so far, insurance hasn’t been a problem.

John Scherer
ATP/CFII. Beech B35 Bonanza
Twico Aviation
Monterey CA


My company operates under Part 135. At this time, we do not have a mandatory retirement age.

Rick Wilson
ATP. Citation X/Excel/XLS/CJ3, Beechjet 400 & King Air 350i
Wheels Up
High Point NC


Here in Malaysia, the retiring age is 65 years old for commercial transportation services. Pilots may keep flying past that age only for private flying, training, and leisure. We are of the opinion that there should be a pilot retiring age, and we adhere to our civil aviation authority’s policy.

Bagawan Singh
ATP/Helo. Airbus H125
Managing Director & Type Rating Instructor
Helistar Resources
Selangor, Malaysia


My company did not have a retirement age. However, the insurance company did when I reached 74. They refused to insure with myself as a single pilot in a King Air. Therefore, I am now retired.

Bruce Rainwater
ATP/CFII. Citation I, Beechjet 400 & Mitsubishi MU-300
Former Pilot
Richmond TX


Federal law age limitations on any job are no longer valid. Health values have improved greatly since implementations of age limits, which was only due to the companies wanting to limit upper senior staff salaries. The insurance companies are now more the rule in aviation business with their own actuarial processes. Even Part 91 operations are being restricted as to pilot age by insurance underwriters. Check with them about how they determine their findings and manage policy valuations, costs. That would be a Frontline-type article worth pursuing. Whatever the company viewpoint is matters not at all when insurance companies make it impossible to keep highly valued pilots with massive experience and technical value, all because of some age factoring that is generalized per their business model and not individual evaluation.

Dave Gurney
ATP/CFI/A&P. Falcon 2000, Premier I & King Air 350i/C90CTi
Dir Flight Ops
Boardroom Aviation
Reno NV