Aviation Safety:

Information on FAA's Age 60 Rule for Pilots

RCED-90-45FS: Published: Nov 9, 1989. Publicly Released: Dec 4, 1989.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) regulation prohibiting individuals 60 years or older from piloting large commercial aircraft.

GAO found that: (1) FAA has not changed the rule since its adoption in 1959; (2) since 1959, 418 pilots have submitted 67 petitions requesting exemptions, of which FAA has granted none; (3) from 1960 through 1988, FAA issued 1,301 medical certificates to pilots with physical and psychological conditions that would normally be disqualifying; (4) according to FAA, various studies have not identified an alternative that would ensure the same safety level as the 1959 regulation; and (5) FAA planned to fund a study of the relationship between age and accident rates in fiscal year 1991.

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