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Is There an Age Limit for a Commercial Pilot License?

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Are you looking to pursue a career in the aviation industry but don’t know whether it’s the right choice for the long haul? Being a professional pilot for a U.S. airline is a wonderful choice of career, but it does have various age and medical requirements set by the Federal Aviation Administration. This begs the question: Is there an age limit for commercial pilot license holders?

The experts at Leopard Aviation, a leading flight school in Arizona, are here to answer that question. This in-depth guide explores the age requirements for different jobs in the aviation industry and whether older pilots can fly for a major airline.

What Is the Standard Age of an Airline Pilot?

Working as a commercial airline pilot makes for an exciting and fulfilling career. You’ll enjoy valuable employment opportunities that aren’t available with a private pilot license. The minimum age for a private pilot’s license is 17, whereas the age eligibility for CPL holders starts at 23. At this age, you can earn an airline transport pilot certificate and go on to fly large passenger aircraft.

Major airlines in the U.S. hire pilots of various ages, but each has a set number of years left on the job. For the health and safety of airplane crews and passengers, the FAA dictates that all commercial pilots retire at age 65. Airlines operating out of other countries have no mandatory retirement age but require all pilots to pass certain medical standards.

Other FAA Regulations for Commercial Airline Pilots

The FAA imposes an age limit for commercial pilot license holders along with other regulations throughout the industry. In addition to CPL age limitations, the FAA dictates your rank among the flight crew. This always goes based on a pilot’s previous experience, so starting your career at the minimum age for commercial pilot certification gives you the best chance of climbing the ranks to the senior-most pilot position.

Given the 65-year age limit for commercial pilot license holders, flight students who complete training in their 20s and early 30s have a better chance of watching their careers grow and get to spend a significant amount of time flying. Older pilots who don’t finish training until their 40s will need to fly under a more experienced captain regardless of their age.

You might be wondering why the aviation industry restricts pilots from working for airlines past the age of 65. A major reason for this upper age limit is to ensure all commercial airline pilots are in good health. After all, they do have the important job of bringing people to their destinations safely.

The FAA wants to guarantee that the person navigating the airplane can maintain a first-class medical certificate, which grows more difficult with age. U.S. airlines require their pilots to obtain recertification every six months if they’re over 40 years old. Holding a first-class medical certificate shows that the aviator meets all the health standards for flying an airplane, including the following:

  • Visual acuity
  • Normal hearing
  • No cardiovascular issues, such as high blood pressure
  • A balanced equilibrium

Pilots must meet these FAA requirements to operate a passenger aircraft that serves U.S. airlines. Failing to pass the medical tests can prevent pilots from holding their aviation rank and could force them to fly a different type of airplane, such as the aircraft that flight instructors use when training students.

Factors Aspiring Pilots Should Consider

Assuming you meet the age criteria for commercial pilots and have the drive to pursue a career in aviation, it’s important to consider everything that awaits you in the field of aviation. The following aspects should influence your decision to be an airline pilot:

  • Your age: You might be under the age limit for commercial pilot license holders, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have a lengthy career in the airlines. Pilots over the age of 40 will likely achieve the First Officer position without ever flying as a captain.
  • The hours: Commercial airline pilots work late nights and early mornings. This daunting schedule may not fit into your busy life.
  • The training: All pilots have to fly at least 1,500 hours. This requirement can take students a long time to accomplish in aviation school.

If the commercial pilot license age requirement or other factors deter you, you may consider becoming a private pilot, which has no maximum age.

Become a Pilot at Leopard Aviation Flight School

At Leopard Aviation, we help people like you achieve their dream of being a pilot. Whether you wish to work for a regional airline or fly as a hobby, we can help you in all aspects of pilot training. Become a private pilot with help from our knowledgeable instructors or work toward becoming the pilot of a major airline if you’re younger than the maximum age limit for commercial pilot licenses.

We’ll teach you what it means to be a good pilot and prepare you for a life of flying, assuming you’re within the licensing age for commercial aviators. Give us a call at (480) 605-4539 to learn more about our pilot training program.

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