Airport Medical Services Limited
35 Massetts Road, Horley (Nr Gatwick), Surrey RH6 7DQ United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)1293 775336 Fax: +44 (0)1293 775344 email:

Authorised examiners for: JAA/EASA, UK CAA, US FAA, Transport Canada, CASA Australia,
New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, JCAB, South Africa. Also MCA Seafarer and Oil & Gas UK approved


Age 60 or age 65 – that is the question!!

Whose rules apply and what are they with regard to public transport air operations? In this short article, I will summarise the current and future positions as they apply to licensing and medical certification(not company contracts or local law).

In the past in UK, various age limits applied. From 1919 until the 1930s, the age limit for both pilot-in-command and co-pilot was 45. This was eased back gradually and in 1960 the age 60 rule applied to pilots-in-command although UK did allow age 65 for pilots-in-command of aircraft under 20 tonnes soon after that.

When the JAA requirements came into force in UK in 1999, age 65 became the limit providing it was multi-crew and the other pilot was under the age of 60. However, not all JAA States accepted that. Also, there were obviously problems when venturing outside the JAA as the universal ICAO age 60 rule still applied. In Europe currently, France does not allow pilots in command above the age of 60 to land or overfly. Italy and Portugal have not accepted the age 65 position but do allow overflights.

There is an important change in the offing. The ICAO Standards have been amended following a proposal to and then a vote by the ICAO Air Navigation Council in March 2006. The change comes into effect on the 23rd November 2006 and raises the pilot-in-command age limit to age 65 worldwide. The Council vote was 27 for, 4 against and 4 abstentions. The USA and France were among the 4 voting against. In the Council, a two thirds majority is needed to carry the proposal and this was easily achieved.

The effect of this is that all 189 contracting states of ICAO will be obliged to allow aircraft operated in accordance with ICAO Standards into their airspace with pilots-in command up to age 65. The wording is “….if operated in accordance with ICAO Standards cannot be refused entry into other states airspace”. There are provisos and these are that the change only applies to multi-crew operations and that the other pilot must be under age 60. For single pilot public transport operations, the limit remains at age 60.

What does this change mean? It means that all states must allow crews to operate into or to overfly all ICAO states with the pilot-in-command aged up to 65. This opens up France and the USA in particular.

The only qualifier on this change now is what your particular company specifies in your contract. With the anti-age discrimination in EU law coming into effect in October 2006, your company will be obliged to consider both the ICAO and EU positions.

We look forward to seeing you soon at Airport Medical Services for a few more years while you address your pension situation!!

Dr Ken Edgington
May 2006

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Airport Medical Services Limited
35 Massetts Road, Horley (Nr Gatwick), Surrey RH6 7DQ United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)1293 775336 Fax: +44 (0)1293 775344 email:
Vat Reg - 906 8991 78

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