Are older pilots safer pilots?

Pilot Bob Claypool, who will turn 85 next February and who is the Executive Vice President of the United Flying Octogenarians, an international group of pilots over 80 years of age, has written an interesting opinion piece for Air Facts where he stated that older pilots are safer pilots. Bob then cited Captain “Sully” Sullenberger, who was 57 years old when he performed his miraculous water landing plus Bob has cited a recent Stanford University study which found that both the extent of aviation expertise along with the greater number of years of education will result in better flight simulator performance. In fact, the FAA in the USA has already raised the maximum age of Airline Transport Pilots from 60 to 65.

Moreover, Bob wrote that older pilots usually have a serious interest in being able to remain pilots. Hence, older pilots are less likely to take the kind of risks that younger pilots might be willing to take and will be more serious about about maintaining their good health by watching eating habits, avoiding weight gain and exercising more regularly.

However, commenter Jay Raymond, who says he is one of Britain’s youngest pilots, disagreed with Bob’s rational for older pilots being safer pilots by writing:

New pilots, or younger pilots are relatively fresh out of flight school, and are taught to do things by the book, if anything, ‘fresh’ pilots are more likely to over-think a situation rather than to use short-cuts that my have been picked up during a long and relatively trouble-free history of flying for say a seasoned pilot, like yourself.

On the other hand, commenter MJF responded to Jay by pointing out that “you don’t have TIME to over-think a situation because you need to make a decision immediately, and that is based on training…and experience.” 

Meanwhile, John Young wrote:

Us old fellas need not worry about the comments of the young. Ask them again in 30 or 40 years and they will have a somewhat different opinion.

Hence, we want to ask you our readers what you think: Are older pilots safer than younger pilots or is more of a combination of factors such as experience along with health AND age?


One Response to Are older pilots safer pilots?

  1. don Miller December 9, 2011 at 02:49 #

    Can I take my flight review (flite test update ) before I get a medical.

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