The need for pilots is growing at a tremendous rate all over the globe. No one entity is feeling that more than the US Air Force. They are losing pilots and not keeping up with their recruiting numbers because they aren’t able to pay the same as the private sector, or that’s at least what they thought.
A few weeks ago we wrote a post here on PilotSalaryHQ.com that talked about the USAF’s new program to give $225,000 signing bonuses to every pilot that reenlisted for another nine years. The program would have given that pilot a $125,000 tax free check and the remainder over the next nine years. A real windfall for the USAF, but it did not really work out that way. The USAF had a goal, hoping that little over 160 to remain pilots in the Air Force; this would essentially have cost $36.7 million over the nine years. They unfortunately fell very short of that goal. So short, that the Air Force hasn’t released the actual number of pilots who did take them up on their offer.
So why did the program fail? Easy, “they aren’t taking it because they aren’t flying, they don’t know what their future is”, said acting Air Force Secretary Eric Fanning to airforcetimes.com. Pilots want to fly and they aren’t able to get the required number of flights hours they want in the Air Force because of budget constraints through sequestering and other defense cuts… so, they will get those hours elsewhere.
These pilots are leaving their government jobs at their first opportunity and they are taking new flying positions in the private sector. Now flying in the private sector may mean they are flying aircraft that are a bit slower and in some cases bit older but with the demand for qualified pilots on the rise it doesn’t mean they are getting paid less. In many cases they are only a few months or years from being right back where they were being compensated or even better. All while actually accumulating the flight hours they crave so much.
I hope this isn’t shocking for the US Government. I mean seriously, pilots are adventurous people who do what they love to do and if they were in it for the money they would have become something other than an Air Force pilots. They are in the Air Force because they want to fly the fastest and most modern aircraft fleet anywhere in the world. But, unfortunately in many cases they aren’t able to do that. In the fiscal year 2013 the Air Force was forced to ground 13 combat squadrons and the outlook for FY’14 and ’15 is not any better. In fact according to the top brass of the Air Force the outlook is looking a bit bleaker. The Air Force may be required to cut 25,000 airmen and indefinitely ground over 500 aircraft.
This is a sad scenario that hurts the United States as a whole. These budget issues leave the US in a position of weakness, where it can’t seem to find the necessary resources to protect its people.