Navy Shells Out More To Retain Pilots


Struggling with worsening pilot retention in a hot civil hiring market, the Navy is offering its aviators substantial bonuses to stay in the service. For the second year in a row, the Navy has boosted its incentive pay up to $175,000 for pilots who sign on for a five-year term.

Vice Admiral Robert Burke told Congress last month that the Navy isn’t retaining sufficient pilots in the strike fighter, electronic attack and helicopter mine countermeasure specialties as airlines continue to draw away experienced pilots for higher-paying civil jobs.

The Air Force is having similar retention problems. That service expects to retain about 65 percent of its pilots with retention bonuses, but recently, that rate has plummeted. The Air Force said it finished 2017 with 2000 fewer pilots than it needed, up from a 1500-pilot shortage the previous year.

The Navy Times reported that pilots who sign on for five years quality for up to $35,000 a year in typical bonuses. To entice pilots not willing to sign on for five years, the Navy is also offering three-year extensions.