Air Force, Airlines Move On Pilot Sharing
The Air Force is moving ahead with plans to allow its pilots to interrupt military service to fly with airlines. It’s one of the measures being considered to stem the exodus of experienced military aviators to commercial aviation. “Our senior leaders are going to start collaborating with the airlines in May to see if we can get a public-private partnership and what that might look like, so I think that’s where you’ll see we are going,” Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso, the Air Force deputy chief of staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services, told Federal News Radio. She said the goal is to keep the ranks of military pilots strong while at the same time ensuring a steady supply of military-trained aviators for the airlines. The Air Force is currently short about 1500 pilots because airlines are on a hiring spree and military pilots are the most sought-after candidates.
The Air Force is also considering increasing retention bonuses to keep military pilots in longer. It’s looking at increasing the $25,000 cap on annual bonuses to a maximum of $35,000 for those who agree to stay 13 years. That totals $455,000 in bonus pay over the 13 years. It’s also looking at allowing one- or two-year extensions in addition to the five- and nine-year engagements it currently offers. More lucrative plans will be available for the pilots in most demand, currently fighter pilots. Of the 1,555 vacancies at the end of 2016, 1,211 were fighter jobs.