How can the U.S. Air Force fix its pilot shortage?

In recent months, the Air Force’s critical pilot shortage has been a subject of intense coverage in the press. The service needs about 20,000 pilots to handle its aircraft, and it currently has a shortfall of around 2,000 pilots.

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson recent spoke on the subject, citing high operational tempo as a factor driving out pilots:

“We’re burning out our people,” Wilson said. “Surge has become the new normal in the United States Air Force. You can do that for a year, or two years, maybe even three or four years. But I met someone last week who has just come back from his 17th deployment. Seventeen deployments. And at some point, families make a decision that they just can’t keep doing this at this pace.” Via

The Air Force has attempted to rectify this through five- to nine-year extensions, later trying $35,000 bonuses in exchange for one or two additional years. This has been criticized by some such as Senator John McCain (R-AZ), a former fighter pilot who states that the pilots he meets want to fly in combat, making it “foolish” to focus on outbidding commercial airlines that recruit from the ranks of military pilots.

Read more at Newsweek…

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