Age, flight experience, and violation risk in mature commuter and air taxi pilots

George W. Rebok, Yandong Qiang, Susan P. Baker, Melissa L. McCarthy, Guohua Li

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Violation of Federal Aviation Regulations has been identified as a risk factor for pilot involvement in aviation crashes. However, the associations among violations, flight experience, and pilot age have not been well studied. In this study, we aimed to examine risk of violation in relation to pilot age and other pilot characteristics based on exposure to flight in a fixed birth cohort of 3,306 commuter air carrier and air taxi pilots who in 1987 were aged 45 to 54 years. We merged different data files from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration for the years 1987 to 1997, and we analyzed violation rates per pilot flight hour in relation to total flight hours at baseline and pilot age at time of violation. During the 11-year follow-up period, a total of 12.9 million cumulative flight hours and 71 violations were recorded, yielding a rate of 5.5 violations per million pilot flight hours. Violation rate increased significantly with age from age 40 to the late 50s. Pilots who were 50 to 54 years old at baseline experienced almost twice the rate of violation involvement as pilots who were 45 to 49 years old at baseline. Total flight time at baseline, an indicator of flight experience, showed a significant protective effect against risk of violation. With adjustments for age, pilots who had 5,000 to 9,999 hr of total flight time at baseline were at significantly lower risk of violation than their less experienced counterparts (relative risk 0.43; 95% confidence interval 0.19 to 0.85). Flight experience showed a diminishing protective effect after pilots reached 10,000 hr of total flight time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)363-374
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Aviation Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Applied Psychology
  • Computer Science Applications


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