The Federal Aviation Administration has adopted a regulation mandating retirement for commercial pilots at age 60 ("FAA Reafirms Rule Limiting Service of Airline Pilots Over 60 Years Old," 1989). While there are strong arguments against the blanket implementation of this rule, such implementation has generally been supported on the grounds of overriding public safety, because of the large numbers of passengers involved in commercial flights.
With respect to corporate aviation, however, the arguments against a blanket implementation of the rule are more supportable. With respect to corporate aviation, the danger of unanticipated performance deterorations on the part of pilots is minimal. Therefore, consideration is appropriate of facts which indicate that deteriorations associated with ageing develop with varying degrees of intensity, over varying time durations, and at varying chronological ages among individuals.
With respect to pilots, the principal considerations with respect to the age/performance relationship are sensory changes and changes in learning and memory capacities. Sensory deprivation, including hearing loss, may lead to panic, delusions, and other aberrant mental behavior (Kaplan, and Sadock. 1985). These potential outcomes could seriously impair the performanceof pilots. The development of sensory losses, and, in turn, the development of the adverse outcomes indicated, vary widely
1 2among individuals with respect to with varying degrees of intensity, varying time durations, and at varying chronological ages of onset. Therefore, in corporate aviation, where overriding interests of public safety are not involved, it is inappropriate to impose age 60 as an arbitrary retirement age for pilots on the grounds of potential sensory loss.
Concern has also been expressed with respect to the loss of learning and memory capacity among older individuals. In point of fact, older adults are capable o...