Influence of aging and practice on piloting tasks

Daniel Morrow, Jerome Yesavage, Von Leirer, Jared Tinklenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We examined how pilot age influences radio communication and routine flying tasks during simulated flight, and if practice reduces age differences in these tasks. The communication task involved reading back and executing messages with four commands (heading, altitude, communication frequency, transponder code). Routine flying tasks included takeoff, visual approach, and landing. Fifteen older (X = 38.4 years) and 16 younger (X = 26.1 years) private-license pilots few 12 flights involving these tasks. Age differences were found in the communication task; older pilots read back and executed controller messages less accurately. However, age differences were not significant for any of the routine flying tasks except the approach. Age differences in communication performance were not reduced by practice, with older and young pilots improving at roughly the same rate across flights. These results are consistent with previous research showing age-related declines in working memory capacity. Capacity declines would produce greater age differences on communication than on routine flying tasks because the communication tasks imposed a greater load on working memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-70
Number of pages18
JournalExperimental Aging Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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