Challenge to EU age restriction on commercial pilots

Captain Wayne Bayley, a former captain for TUI Airways with nearly 26,000 flight hours, is challenging the EU regulation which prohibits pilots aged 65 and over from flying commercial air transport.

Lawyers DMH Stallard have served legal papers on the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) seeking a judicial review of the CAA’s position. The CAA implements EU law in this respect.

Captain Bayley, who turned 65 earlier this year, was a training captain for over 22 years and spent four years as a fleet manager with TUI Airways, in which role he was responsible for over 30 aircraft and associated pilots.

He has passed all medical and competency examinations during his career at an above average level. In 2013 Captain Bayley flew the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner from the UK to Barbados, the birth place of his father.

Non-EU countries including Australia, New Zealand and Canada do not have upper age limit restrictions on pilots; they base a pilot’s competency to fly on medical tests.

The Aircrew Regulations prevent commercial pilots from flying over the age of 59 unless in the cockpit with another pilot under the age of 60. Additionally, the upper limit of 64, which is the issue in this case, prohibits any flying even when alongside a younger pilot.

Simon Elcock, Partner at DMH Stallard, said, “Captain Bayley accepts that there is clearly a legitimate public interest in safety in evaluating and mitigating the risks of pilot incapacitation in commercial flying.

“However, he believes this risk is mitigated by the requirement of having another pilot on the flight deck under the age of 60 and appropriate medical examinations.

“Having a blanket ban on commercial pilots flying from their 65th birthday seems arbitrary as it does not take into account the health and fitness of the individual pilot or developments in medical science.”

DMH Stallard, on behalf of Captain Bayley, is seeking permission from the Administrative Court to proceed to a Judicial Review of the CAA and specifically to enforce the requirement that the CAA have due regard, under its statutory public sector equality duty, to the need to advance equality of opportunity to commercial pilots over the age of 64.

Captain Bayley said, “I believe that the age limit of 64 for commercial pilots is out of date. With suitable medical examinations and precautions, it is perfectly safe for pilots over the age of 64 to fly commercially with another pilot under the age of 60.

“There is also a clear benefit to the public and the airline industry in having very experienced pilots operating in the UK and this would also help to address the current shortage of commercial pilots, especially experienced training captains.”


  1. I fully agree with capt. Bayley.

    I am over 60, take part in duathlons, work more than full time, do volunteer work and fly IR. I hold a CPL but do not use it as such. It is plain daft to prevent a woman or man earning a living as a pilot based on some arbitrary age.

    This appeal was bound to happen and I wish the good captain every success.

    1. A very pertinent petition. Regulators on one hand implement the age limit and on the other hand are face by giving command of a passenger airliner to youngish captains who are on the minimum edges of competencies of command criteria. Major airlines are being forced to give command to such relatively less experienced pilots. Top it up with the new generation of these young pilots being more of button pusher automation pilots than real skill pilots. When the chips are down one needs to shun all automation and hand fly the aeroplane. That is the experience these pilots are lacking. Airlines are simply shutting there eyes to this phenomenon which has a very serious connotation. It’s not the fault of these pilots but that is how they are being train. Doing away with the age limit will go a long way to address this situation.
      Besides, younger people are having more heart attacks than the older ones. Hence, this petition should be given a real thought.

    2. I agree with Captain Bayley… if they can work, let them. Experience is invaluable…
      and further, I am disgusted with airlines which use older Senior FO pilots to babysit, younger.and inexperienced crews. SFO’s with 16000+ hours. fit, healthy,conscientious, no incidents or accidents some of whom no the hard facts of redundancy …are being denied upgrades because of isms… and when they should be retiring happily, they must find alternative work … not all pilots are fortunate in careers..

  2. I agree with Capt. Bayley. This is age discrimination, ability to fly should be determined by medical capacity.

    What is there to say that a pilot can’t become incapacitated whatever his/her age? Commercial aircraft should have two pilots for this reason.

  3. I am 72 and forced to leave commercial aviation at the age of 65. Now l continue to fly, training young men and women to become airline pilots. I hold a class 1 medical and an ATPL. GOOD LUCK as he is so right

  4. I fully agree with Capt Bayley. I hold a EASA cpl and Cnd atpl and with 53 I will be forced in a while to go and fly for a privat ops or give up flying if I want to stay in EU. Or worse stop flying at all. Another problem we Heli pilot is our small pension due to lower salaries. I will only be untitled to the government pension when I reach 65. Who would cover the 5 years missing? Unemployment? . I think we should be allows to continue exercising the privilege of our licenses until the medical says otherwise since most of us paid to become a pilot the authorities should respect that. This 60/65 situation is not improving safety in aviation amongst the pilot it just get the frustration getting stronger and for us to find another way…

  5. Most pilots, by the time they are made to retire from flying because of these disputes arbitrary age limits, have been through (bi-)annual medical checks for over thirty years. If they reach 65 with a good bill of health, I see no reason for them to be forced out of their job. With increasing legal (and thus financial) retirement ages beyond 65 becoming common around the world, I think the pilots profession should be treated equal to others. Increased frequency of medical checks after 60 and possibly an adapted content of these checks should easily ensure that the public may rely on senior pilots being comparably safe as their younger peers.

  6. Tony O gave complet explanation. There are no reason for age limit because it is all individual. One can be medicaly “young” with 75 and another one “old” with 45.
    Beside extended medical check for pilots over age of 60 and limitation for other pilot to be below 60 there are no reason for aditional restrictions as long as fhis pilot pass his Licence Check.
    Today we have pilot shortage all around the world an it will be worst and worst in the future. But the bigest shortage is of “experirnced pilots” who are grounded just becose of date of birht…

  7. Peru,Chile and Brasil follow sale regulation s permiting to fly comercial operations above 65 years old,with especial medical certificación,and some restraction on hours montly.

  8. The medical or physical examination for pilots above 64 shouldn’t have to be different, harder. Why?
    They should maintain the same standard examination.
    Does not make sense requiring older pilots to be in a better condition!

  9. Safety of the flight operations does not depend of the pilot’s age, it depends of there skill, knowledge, techniques and many other factors. Grounded the pilots only because age limit absolutely wrong! They are more experienced and this is very important to have experienced Captain in the cockpit!

  10. The whole ageism thing in commercial flying is an anachronism from the early days when flying could be a tough physical occupation as well.
    Sitting in a up-to-date flight deck with all the modern goodies and a couple of autopilots has now changed the situation to a more cranial undertaking. Such an activity is not nearly as stressful as days gone by.
    It is also a fact that modern man is more fit and living longer because of better diet, housing conditions and increased awareness of the importance of active lifestyle. To deprive such a different creature of his livelihood because of age is not only indefensible but can, and does, cause severe unnecessary anxiety when a pilot wants to continue his career.
    If a pilot wishes the continue flying professionally, then only the results of an Standard Flightdeck Medical should be relevant. I say this as a 22500 hr. pilot, aged 79, still flying aerobatics and who has just completed a 100 mile walk for fun in 7½ days.

  11. I’ve not long turn 60 years young so my enforced retirement looms. I recently passed my medical with flying colours as I always have. I feel this rule of when you acquire 65 candles on your birthday cake you are no longer safe or fit to fly.
    I fully support Captain Bayle in his quest.

  12. I agree, this age restriction is unfair, provided they are medically fit and have passed all the necessary tests then there is no reason to force a pilots to retire at 65. There are always two pilots in the cockpit anyway, surely this adds to safety.
    Good luck Wayne.

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