RISK OF ACCIDENTS AND THE POLICY OF FORCED RETIREMENT
Gaines H. Liner
In 1960, the Federal Aviation Administration put in place the Age 60 rule forcing airline pilots to retire upon reaching the age of 60 years. This paper uses data from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration to determine if having pilots above 59 years of age carries a social cost. Statistical evidence indicates that the severity of aircraft accidents is related to pilot age for some classes of pilots but not for others. Findings are that small-airplane accidents tend to be more severe for pilots over 59 with private and commercial licenses than for younger pilots with equal qualifications. Thus, some (though not convincing) evidence suggests that private and commercial pilots above 59 years of age impose a greater social cost on the flying public than do younger pilots. However, among ATP pilots-that is, those who are licensed to fly large airplanes-no evidence indicates that pilots over 59 have more severe accidents when flying small airplanes than do younger ATP pilots flying such airplanes. Moreover, no evidence indicates that age is a factor in serious and fatal accidents for ATP pilots flying large airplanes up to the mandatory retirement age of 60 years. The extra screening and training of ATP pilots may explain the differences in accident severity between these and other pilots. Copyright 1995 Western Economic Association International.
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