USAF Officials Raise Pilot Shortage Concerns

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"We are concerned that there is a sort of perfect storm approaching us in terms of flying retention," acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning told Foreign Policy magazine in a recent interview. "If Iím looking at my jet parked on the ramp instead of flying it, and I can get a job somewhere else flying, then Iím going to do that.Ē Hiring is expected to pick up for the commercial airlines next year, as pilots who got a reprieve when the FAA boosted mandatory retirement age to 65 in 2007 will start aging out of the cockpit. At the same time, federal policy changes mean less flying time for Air Force pilots.

"Pilots like to fly, they like to yank and bank," C.J. Ingram, a program analyst at the Air Force, told Foreign Policy. "They're not getting the flying time, so that's not making them happy." This fall, Air Force officials met for an Air Crew Summit at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland to discuss the potential pilot shortage. "That's the level of attention this is getting," one Air Force official said. The airlines are expected to hire up to 50,000 pilots over the next decade.