Relationship of age and simulated flight performance

J Am Geriatr Soc. 1999 Jul;47(7):819-23. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1999.tb03838.x.


Objective: To determine the relationship between age and aviator performance on a flight simulator.

Design: A cross-sectional observational study.

Participants: The sample consisted of 100 aviators aged 50 to 69 (mean = 58).

Main outcome measures: Pilots were tested on a Frasca 141 flight simulator (Urbana, IL), linked to a UNIX-based IRIS 4D computer (Silicon Graphics, Mountain View, CA), which both generated graphics of the environment in which the pilots flew and collected data concerning the aircraft's flight conditions.

Results: We found that increased age was significantly associated with decreased aviator performance on a flight simulator.

Conclusions: Although there was a significant relationship between increased age and decreased aviator performance, age explained 22% or less of the variance of performance on different flight tasks; hence, other factors are also important in explaining the performance of older pilots.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aerospace Medicine*
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aging* / physiology
  • Aging* / psychology
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Aviation*
  • Cognition
  • Communication
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychomotor Performance*
  • Regression Analysis