Air Force combats pilot shortage with big payments
The service is offering annual bonuses of up to $25,000 to stop aircrew members from leaving for commercial airlines.
The U.S. Air Force is looking for a few good men and women -- to keep flying for their country. A shortage of qualified aviators, especially fighter jocks, is prompting the service to offer lucrative incentives to some eligible, active-duty pilots.
Lt. Col. Stuart Rubio, the Air Force's policy-mobility forces chief, says the 2013 version of the Aviator Retention Pay Program is meant to keep aircrew members at a fraction of the cost the service would otherwise incur to train new, rated officers.
It provides eligible pilots and combat systems officers with annual incentive payments of anywhere from $15,000 to $25,000 -- "with some categories eligible for 50% up front" -- in exchange for active duty service commitments.
"The program has significantly changed to target specific rated categories expected to be critical to new mission growth and inventory shortages," Rubio said late last month on the Air Force website. "In addition, we preserve a fully ready cadre of aircrew officers, eliminating years of necessary tempering and experience.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Air Force expects to be down about 200 fighter pilots this year, and its retention rates are lower compared to previous years.
The median salary for Air Force pilots, by the time they complete their 11th year, is around $90,000, and many are being lured away by commercial airlines -- where median wages for pilots, co-pilots and flight engineers hover above $103,000.
In a report issued last year, Boeing (BA) projected an "unprecedented" demand for airline pilots -- with about 460,000 new commercial pilots needed by 2031 "as global economies expand and airlines take delivery of tens of thousands of new commercial airplanes."
Along with those better-paying jobs in the commercial sector, Air Force officials told the Times other factors are also behind their pilots' departures -- including the stresses of military life, multiple redeployments to combat zones and the rising use of unmanned, remote-controlled drones.
In fact, says the Times, the surge in drone technology recently forced the Air Force to permanently reassign more than 150 fighter pilots to controlling "remotely piloted aircraft" -- but given the rising pilot shortage, that practice has recently stopped.
it's gotta be crushing to a jet fighter pilot to be asigned to flying an RC plane.
meanwhile, the US armed forces train the pilots that Boeing and other airliner companies then take full advantage of.
Even in 7th grade all I ever wanted to be was a AF piolet, but once I was in a highschool I started doing alittle research. Drones were beginning to come out and about then. So I thought long and hard decided college first. I am 24 now and still to this day I wish I was flying for the AF. It's not about money for me.
assignment to a drone program is a BIG factor for rated officers. we don't want that career change. it's worse than a pentagon assignment! stay true, stay blue, be vigiliant!
Hogwash, The military is only paying 25K? I was offered that back in 1979 to re-up for 4 more yrs. and that in today's dollar amount is roughly 35K. And who said the average fighter pilot makes 90k? What planet are you living on? To make 90k a yr. as a pilot in the military you would have to be at least a Colonel (06) which is one level below a 1 Star Brigadier General with 12yrs of service. By the time you reach that grade level they are pushing you out of a plane and behind a DESK! Oh and I forgot to mention the crummy $225 pay for Hostile Fire/ Imminent Danger pay. Paid healthcare ? Have you visited a VA Hospital lately? You get far better care at a Veterinary free clinic for homeless animals! Lets talk about base housing...If it was rated like hotels, 1 to 5 stars it would owe points!
And retirement? After 20 years of service how does 1200 a month sound? Some people on welfare collect 50k a year with all benefits. Is it no wonder Pilots decide to leave after being insulted with a 25k retention payment? It's far time the military pays members at least 50% what their private sector counterparts make. I was shocked when I looked up the pay scale for 2013. I'm glad I left when I did or else I would have ended up losing $48,000 a year on top of base pay for 11yrs. to hit 20yrs.
Yes, our brave men an women in the military deserve much needed raises. Last year, $348+ billion was spent on illegal immigrants most of whom will eventually commit crimes and land in jail. Why, why, why? The money must be spent on those who protect our freedom not on those who make the middle class pay more on taxes, by bearing children they can't afford to raise, and worst children who score very low in mathematics and science.
The USAF may train them, but to keep them past their agreed upon term you have to pay to retain them...or someone else will. Just the way it goes. Same goes for any specialized talent I guess.
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