The Air Force’s most experienced active duty pilots are being offered up to $600,000 in bonuses if they sign up for a 12-year extension. FLYING Magazine reported last week that the Experienced Aviator Retention Incentive (EARI) and Rated Officer Retention Demonstration program will give the most valuable pilots up to $50,000 a year for 12 years if they re-up when their contracts are up in 2025 or 2026. They also get their pick of assignments and to turn down those they don’t want. The bonuses start at $15,000 a year and range upward to the $50,000 maximum depending on their experience and what they fly.
Like many other aviation employers, the Air Force is having a hard time hanging on to its best and brightest aviators, and it has a special need to do so according to Major General Adrian Spain, who heads up training for USAF. “Specifically, aviation-related skill sets, formed through the crucible of combat and daily execution of high-intensity operations, is the foundation necessary to continue to effectively deliver warfighting capability to the joint force and the American people,” he said in a statement. “Retaining these professional aviators’ experience and expertise within the total force is imperative in order to outpace future challenges that may emerge throughout the spectrum of conflict,” he added.