An airline captain who has been flying for more than 40 years has started a legal challenge to rules that force commercial pilots to retire once they reach 65.

Wayne Bayley, who was the first to fly the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner from the UK to Barbados, was forced to retire from Tui Airways last January after clocking up nearly 26,000 flying hours.

His lawyers are seeking a judicial review of Civil Aviation Authority rules stipulating that UK-registered pilots must retire at 65. Australia and Canada have no upper limit.

The legal team will claim in the High Court that the enforced retirement age is arbitrary and constitutes age discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. They say that advances in medical tests and sixtysomethings’ health mean that the rules are out-dated.

Under CAA rules pilots over 59 must be accompanied in the cockpit by another younger than 60.

Simon Elcock, a partner at the law firm DMH Stallard, told The Times that Bayley accepted that there was a “legitimate public interest in safety in evaluating and mitigating the risks of pilot incapacitation in commercial flying” but believed that they were “mitigated by the requirement of having another pilot on the flight deck under 60 and medical examinations”.

He added: “Having a blanket ban on commercial pilots flying from their 65th birthday seems arbitrary as it does not take into account the health and fitness of the individual pilot or developments in medical science.”

Bayley joined British Island Airways in 1976 and flew 50-seater turboprop aircraft before moving to Air Europe, where he flew his first jet airliner and piloted transatlantic flights and routes to Asia. He joined Tui in 2000.

He aims to fly on into his seventies.

“There are pilots flying at that age in Australia,” he said. “Modern flying is not a hair-raising profession.”

His legal team said that he had passed all his medical and competency examinations — including one just before his last birthday — at an above average level.

The CAA declined to comment while legal proceedings were continuing, according to the newspaper.