The US Air Force is taking advantage of mass layoffs within the airline industry to try and bring pilots back into the fold- it’s just figuring out “how to do it” that seems to be the challenging part.
In light of personnel shortages, the Air Education and Training Command has been looking at ways to recruit experienced men and women from the commercial pilot realm, particularly after the airline industry took a rather dismal economic turn.
Air Combat Command chief General James Holmes recently discussed the matter at a Mitchell Institute webinar.
“Can we bring a pilot [who is] already a commercial-experience pilot, and can we put them through a short programme in the air force to make them an Air Force pilot?” he asked
In addition to potentially cutting the time it takes to become a fully-fledged fighter pilot, AETC is also looking at working with civilian training programmes.
“They’re also looking at ways to go out into civilian pilot training programmes and work with them to design the equivalent of our programmes where we could take people out of some of those university or school-based programmes and bring them straight into the Force,” Holmes said.
According to Flight Global, the USAF has often struggled with losing pilots to the commercial industry, but the recent economic shifts may be turning the tides.
“People that were reaching the end of their service commitment or had reached it, and were planning on moving to the airlines, are now thinking through that decision,” said Holmes. “I think that some of those will decide to stick around with us for a while longer. Some of them will sign a longer-term bonus and decide to commit and some of them will make a year-to-year decision and wait and see what happens in the environment. It gives us a chance to try to convince them to stick with us, which is an opportunity for us.”
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