Air Force Pilots Cite Family Concerns
Air Force pilots have told their commanders that the needs of families have to take a higher priority if they want to attract and retain aircrew. The Air Force is bleeding pilots to the airlines as a worldwide pilot shortage takes hold and the Air Force Times reported this week that jet jockeys want help keeping the home fires burning. In April, the Air Force invited input from pilots on changes that would keep them in uniform and family issues dominated the 600 responses received. Pilots want the needs of spouses and children to be a consideration in their duty assignments and when they are deployed they want time before and after their tours to ensure life goes on smoothly at home. “We want the airmen’s input to be in the lead here. They’re the folks who are experiencing this day in and day out,” said Brig. Gen. Samuel Mahaney, deputy director for operations of the Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. “We need to demonstrate to airmen they are valued, heard, and, wherever possible, enhance quality of service and quality of life for our airmen and their families. Their voice in this process is critical."
Making peace with its current pilots is only part of the strategy to tackle the pilot shortfall, which exceeds 1,000 now and is expected to rise. On May 18, senior officers met with representatives from major and regional airlines to discuss ways to help each other keep the flow of new pilots healthy. And even though it offers opportunities to fly the hottest, most high-tech equipment on the planet, the Air Force says one of the things the industry as a whole needs to do is make aviation cool again. "We are working hard to find ways to start conversations and develop a curiosity and passion for aviation that will span future generations,” said Gen. Carlton Everhart of the Air Mobility Command. “There is a need to re-energize a nationwide interest in flying as an occupation. Partnering with Civil Air Patrol, ROTC and across industry is critically important. Getting people enthusiastic about aviation and into the air needs to be a collective nationwide campaign."