So, what does all this mean? Should primary students and those seeking advanced ratings, proficiency training or just a simple flight review pass up flying with the grizzled veteran in favor of the young whippersnapper? Maybe, but not necessarily based on the results from this research alone.
For example, a 2003 study for the FAAs Civil Aeromedical Institute, Pilot Age and Accident Rates Report 3: An Analysis of Professional Air Transport Pilot Accident Rates by Age, generally found the accident rate decreased for younger pilots as they aged, and then leveled off in the middle years. At the same time, it found that the statistical trend for older pilots holding Class 1 medical and ATP certificates was toward higher accident rates.
One question this research on instructional accidents did not answer is how frequently instructors with similar experience/age characteristics are involved in specific accident types. For example, might CFIs over 40 be more likely to become involved in accidents where weather or low flying is a factor? Might young instructors be more prone to stalling, failing to follow checklists or prove unable to handle a mechanical failure?
Another question arising from this research is whether specific types of instruction are more or less likely to end in an accident. Giving a flight review usually is considered to be less risky than multi-engine training or aerobatics, for example, but is that correct? Are older, more-experienced CFIs more or less likely to engage in advanced instruction than their younger and less-experienced colleagues?