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Do pilots live longer?

When it comes to professions that capture our imaginations, being a pilot is often near the top of the list. Pilots are entrusted with the responsibility of safely navigating aircraft through the sky, and their job requires a unique set of skills and expertise. But have you ever wondered if being a pilot comes with any potential health benefits? Specifically, do pilots live longer than the average person? In this blog post, we’ll explore the findings of two studies that examined the longevity of pilots and compare them to the general population.

Overview of Existing Studies

Before delving into the details of the studies, let’s provide a brief overview of the two research projects that have shed some light on the question of pilot longevity.

The first study we’ll discuss analyzed the mortality rates of retired Norwegian pilots. The researchers examined a large sample of retired pilots and compared their average age of death to the average age of death of the general population. The second study focused on pilot deaths after the age of 60 in the United States. By comparing these pilot deaths to the general population, the researchers aimed to determine if there was a significant difference in longevity.

Study 1: Analysis of Retired Norwegian Pilots’ Mortality Rates

The first study involved analyzing the mortality rates of retired Norwegian pilots. The researchers collected data on a sample size of retired pilots and compared their average age of death to that of the general population. The findings of this study revealed that the average age of death for the pilots was 61, whereas the general population had an average age of death of 63. Although the difference may seem negligible at first glance, it suggests that pilots may have slightly shorter lifespans compared to the general population.

Study 2: Analysis of Pilot Deaths after the Age of 60 in the US

The second study was conducted in the United States and focused on pilot deaths after the age of 60. This study examined a specific age range to gain a better understanding of the potential impact of flying on pilot longevity. The researchers found that the average age of death for pilots in this age group was also 61, mirroring the findings of the first study. In contrast, the average age of death for the general population in the same age bracket was 63. Once again, we see a slight difference in average lifespan between pilots and the general population.

Possible Explanations for Pilot Longevity

While these studies highlight a small disparity in average age of death between pilots and the general population, it is important to note that many factors can contribute to longevity. Let’s explore some possible explanations for why pilots may have shorter lifespans, despite their seemingly healthy lifestyle.

One possible explanation is the rigorous lifestyle and adherence to safety protocols that pilots must maintain. Pilots undergo regular medical check-ups and are subject to strict industry regulations. These factors may contribute to earlier detection and treatment of health issues, which could potentially impact the average age of death.

Additionally, pilots tend to lead relatively healthy lifestyles. They often engage in regular exercise, maintain a balanced diet, and avoid habits that are detrimental to their health. These healthy habits could also contribute to the potential longevity of pilots.

Occupational factors may also play a role in pilot longevity. Flying requires continuous training and adherence to strict safety measures. Pilots are trained to handle crisis situations and are equipped to make split-second decisions. The repeated exposure to and management of high-stress situations could potentially impact their overall health and lifespan.

Limitations of the Studies

While these studies provide valuable insights into pilot longevity, it is essential to acknowledge their limitations. Both studies had relatively small sample sizes, which may limit the generalizability of their findings. Additionally, the lack of control groups makes it challenging to attribute any observed differences in longevity solely to their occupation as pilots. Furthermore, potential biases in data collection must also be taken into account when interpreting the results of these studies.

Implications and Potential Future Research

The findings of these studies open up a range of implications and potential avenues for future research. Given the limitations of the existing studies, it is important to conduct further research with larger sample sizes and control groups to provide more robust evidence.

Moreover, future studies could examine the potential influence of career length and types of flying on pilot longevity. For example, comparing the lifespans of commercial airline pilots to those of military pilots or private pilots could offer valuable insights.

The results of these studies may have implications for pilot retirement age and the provision of healthcare for pilots. Understanding the factors that influence pilot longevity could lead to improved protocols and interventions to promote healthier lifestyles and extend the careers of pilots.


While being a pilot is undoubtedly a captivating and prestigious profession, the studies reviewed in this blog post suggest that pilots may not necessarily live longer than the general population. Although the average age of death for pilots in both studies was around 61, slightly lower than the general population’s average age of death of 63, it is important to note that numerous factors contribute to longevity.

The rigorous lifestyle, adherence to safety protocols, and healthy habits of pilots may have a positive impact on their overall health and well-being. However, it is equally crucial to consider the potential occupational factors, such as exposure to high-stress situations, as they may offset any potential health benefits.

Further research with larger sample sizes and control groups is necessary to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the potential influence of being a pilot on longevity. By continuing to study this topic, we can enhance our knowledge and potentially improve the lives and well-being of pilots in the aviation industry.


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