When I asked my original question below, I should have been more specific. I will rephrase my question, however, I do wish to extend my thanks & appreciation to those who answered my question as previously written!

Please advise whether there is an upper age limit for pilots flying strictly air freight and/or for companies like FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc. that fly a mix of air freight, documentation, etc. flying on american (USA) flag carriers within the USA? and, whether it makes a difference if the same USA carrier flies out of the USA to another country such as Canada, Mexico, central America, south America, Europe, Asia, Africa, etc.? Does the US postal service its own fleet of aircraft, and, if so, does it have an upper age limit for flying US mail and/or parcels?

Prior question left here for reference only:
(Please advise if there is an upper age limit for pilots flying aircraft carrying only freight (not passengers) into and out of the USA?)

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Part 121: yes. Other parts: no. $\endgroup$
    – acpilot
    May 29 '19 at 4:40
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ In and out of USA? Does the plane registered in USA or you are a Mexican pilot fly into and out of USA? $\endgroup$
    – vasin1987
    May 29 '19 at 9:38
  • $\begingroup$ All CAPS hurts my eyes! $\endgroup$ Jul 14 '21 at 13:57

The only situation in which a US-licensed pilot is subject to an age limit is part 121 scheduled airline service. Other than that there are no age limits, you just have to be able to pass your medical exam.

However, you state that in your scenario the pilot will have to be able to fly cargo in and out of the US. That implies the pilot may have a foreign license, in which case you must refer to that country's regulations.


Most scheduled US carriers operate under part 121, regardless of whether they carry passengers or cargo (or both), and part 121 has an age limit of 65.

Unscheduled US carriers (and very small scheduled ones) operate under part 135; neither has an age limit.

Either way, keeping a medical certificate can get very challenging with advanced age, as does continuing to pass flight reviews, so even where there is no official age limit, you won’t see many pilots over 60-65 anyway.

Under the Chicago Convention, US rules always apply to US crews on US planes, even if they happen to be in another country. So, FedEx and UPS can use 65yo pilots even when flying to/from/over countries that have a limit of 60 for their own pilots.

The US Postal Service has always used private airlines to move airmail. But if they instead had their own fleet, the answer would depend on whether the courts decided carrying mail was a “commercial purpose” or “governmental function”. If the former, they’d be “civil aircraft” and fall under Part 121, same as FedEx and UPS. If the latter, they’d be “public aircraft” (ICAO: “state aircraft”) and be exempt from part 121, including its age limit.

  • $\begingroup$ That last paragraph about "state aircraft" - can you give a reference, or an example of that? $\endgroup$ Jul 14 '21 at 15:28
  • $\begingroup$ I understand what the statement you made means, I'm looking for a cite to give it legitimacy, and/or an example of a non-military agency that owns aircraft and so does not follow FAA rules. $\endgroup$ Jul 14 '21 at 16:36
  • $\begingroup$ @DJClayworth Federal, state (in the US sense) and local law enforcement helicopters are common non-military examples. Most voluntarily follow FAA rules when they make sense (e.g. requiring pilots to have the relevant FAA license) but freely ignore them when they don’t (e.g. violating restricted airspace or refusing to yield to other aircraft while pursuing a suspect). $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Jul 14 '21 at 16:47
  • $\begingroup$ Again, a cite for this please? $\endgroup$ Jul 14 '21 at 17:44
  • $\begingroup$ @DJClayworth See 14 CFR 1.1 for the definitions of civil aircraft and public (ICAO: state) aircraft, and you can look through every other Part of 14 CFR to see that most rules only apply to “civil aircraft”. $\endgroup$
    – StephenS
    Jul 14 '21 at 18:36

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