Right on schedule, per Michael Mecham's post on this blog earlier today, AP is out with a story declaring that "the death of the 60-year-old captain of a Continental Airlines jetliner as he flew 247 passengers across the Atlantic could spark a new debate over age limits in the cockpit." (In late 2007 Congress passed, and President Bush signed, a law increasing the mandatory retirement age for commercial pilots from 60 to 65.)
The rest of the AP story, however, pretty much debunks the idea that this should be a concern (and rightly so, IMHO). For example, the AP reports the following:"According to Federal Aviation Administration records, Thursday's death was the sixth of a pilot at the controls of a U.S. jetliner since the agency started keeping records in 1994. The previous pilots who died during flight ranged in age from 48 to 57."
Hmmm. Perhaps the new age limit should be 47.
Also of interest on this same topic, this BBC Q&A on the pilot health check-ups that required, what happens when a pilot dies, and the measures taken to try to avoid having both the pilot and co-pilot become incapacitated--which is really the only time this would become a real safety issue. One of the interesting tidbits: To avoid a double-dose of incapacitating food poisoning, pilots and co-pilots are required to choose different meals from the in-flight menu, the BBC said. You can insert your own airline food joke here.