Robert R Perry
4441 Main St., PG Box 751
Yarmouthport, MA 02675
February 24, 2000
Captain Bert Yetman., President
Professional Pilots Federation
Several years ago, during David Hinson’s tenure at the FAA, airliners with ten to thirty passenger seats were moved from Part 135 rules to Part 121 rules. Pilots flying these airliners were permitted to continue flying beyond their 60th birthday under Part 121 until December 20,1999, at which time every pilot over age sixty would no longer be allowed to fly the line.
At your request, I contacted a number of these over-60 Part 121 pilots to determine how many hours they’d flown the line beyond age 60, and how many accidents or incidents they’d experienced in their over-60 flying. The results of this survey are shown on the attached two pages. Thirty-one pilots accumulated 101,800 flight hours beyond age 60 without a single accident or incident.
The survey was stopped alter attaining over 100,000 Part 121 accident-free hours by over-60 pilots. There are other Part 121 over-60 pilots who retired either on 12/20/99 or prior to that date. I do not know the exact number, but estimate that it lies between 100 and 200. This estimate is based on the number of over-60 pilots that I have known in my airline during the past five years. I am not aware of any over-60 pilot outside this survey being involved in an accident or incident.
Two of the pilots in the survey flew the Beech 1900 19-passenger airliner after reaching age 60. The other twenty-nine flew the 30-passenger EMB-120 Brasilia after reaching age 60. The EMB-120 is a highly complex twin turboprop airliner that requires a skilled, well-trained crew. Fourteen of the 300 EMB-120s originally built have been lost in accidents.
These thirty-one pilots are highly competent and in good health. I found them hard to reach, because many had found new employment. Some have been retained by their
airlines in the training department. Others are flying for private carriers in this country under Part 91 or Part 135 rules. Others are flying overseas. Others are in business. One over-60 pilot has just been awarded the PhD degree, and is starting a new career. Another is an Iron Man athlete. Still another has attained 38,000 pilot hours. In spite of their forced retirement, their outlook is optimistic. My impression is that they’re getting along very well after having to stop flying the line. On the other hand, I suspect their airlines will find it hard to replace the experience and skills they lost on 12/20/99.
This group’s over-60 flying experience indicates that safety is not compromised by the use of older pilots. This group also demonstrates that good health and high professional competence of pilots, not age, is what matters in safe airline flying.
Robert R Perry
EMB- 120 Check Airman and FAA Designated Examiner