The FAA requires 3 landings every 90 days to stay 'current', but as we all know, currency and proficiency are different things.

I'm looking for data than can describe how proficiency loss correlates with various factors. Relevant factors might include how long it's been seen you've flown, how much flying you've done in the last ____ days/months, how much time in type, time in seat, or total experience, etc.

And if there are evidence-based guidelines for how much flying a pilot should do to stave off loss of proficiency, I'd like to see that as well.



I understand that it's impossible to accurately calculate how proficient someone is based on unique individual traits. That's not what I'm trying to do. Like the title says, I'm trying to quantify what's typical for "loss of proficiency due to lack of flying". In other words, how does flying 10 hours in 90 days compare to flying 10 hours in 6 months, as it pertains to proficiency degradation and, ultimately, increased risk of an accident/incident.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Define proficiency. We use currency because it's something measurable, proficiency is subjective. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ "Define proficiency". That's the end goal. I'm trying to gather data and/or research for exactly that purpose. $\endgroup$
    – LDMax
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ It's very age/experience dependent, and also dependent on the mental data aspect vs motor skills. A 60 year old that's been flying for years can generally go very long periods and jump in and get right to it, as far as stick and rudder goes. Those skills stick a long time. I'm over 60 and don't think twice about going flying my own plane after several months of inactivity. It's like may last flight was yesterday. A young person needs the repetition. On the other hand, the young person can absorb data at a much higher rate. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ @JohnK Understood. It's impossible to determine how proficient someone is with their statistics and demographics alone. That's not what I'm trying to do, and that's not what I asked. I'm trying to determine what the primary factors are that cause proficiency loss, and to what extent they do, generally speaking. In other words, how does flying 10 hours in 90 days compare to flying 10 hours in 6 months, as it pertains to proficiency degradation and, ultimately, increased risk of an accident/incident. $\endgroup$
    – LDMax
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 18:08
  • $\begingroup$ You should look beyond just aviation for that kind of data. You'll probably find what you need looking for university studies on that sort of thing for other skillsets that require both mental knowledge and motor skills. On the military side would a good place to look because it involves the ability to perform and make judgements under stress similar to flying. Combat skills are drilled to death to make things automatic under stress, just like emergency procedures in aviaton. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Commented Oct 20, 2020 at 18:16

1 Answer 1


Any decent accident investigation report will show the flight hours flown by the pilot/crew, broken into a matrix of all / acft type in question, and during certain periods of time. These reports are publicly available on different national investigation authorities sites (for example NTSB). The reports also evaluate the currency of the pilot/crew, and mention if it is considered to be a factor in the accident.

If you are looking for an easy way out, in form of a scientific study on these reports, sorry, can't help with that one.

As mentioned in comments, currency in flying does not equal proficiency, and you seem to understand this. Being current does not guarantee one is proficient, not by a long shot, so you are digging a real can of worms here, beware :)

I do think you would benefit reading up on pilot training literature, namely the "human performance & limitation" module. IIRC it contains some very relevant information on the subject of your interest. Such as how experience needs support of other positive personality traits to manifest itself as safety, and perhaps proficiency if you will.


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