The Airlines Don’t Have It All

JB Langley-Eustis, Va. The Air Force’s fighter pilot shortage is getting worse Gen. Herbert J. “Hawk” Carlisle, commander of Air Combat Command, said Thursday. Speaking at the Air Force Association Langley Chapter’s Airpower Symposium at JB Langley-Eustis, Va., Carlisle said the Air Force is already 500 pilots short, and if a remedy isn’t found by 2021 or 2022, the service won’t be able to fill its cockpits. “So we’ve got to do something different,” he said. Carlisle proposed making compensation and quality of life changes to retain pilots. Air Force pay will never compete with airline pay, but tailored bonuses could make the government salary more palatable, he said. The effect of personnel shortages combined with the high ops tempo doesn’t help either. “Even when they’re home, they’re not home,” he said, noting pilots are called on to participate in exercises and support missions when they return from deployments. One possibility is for the Air Force to sign pilots to a 15-year commitment following training, but allow them to transition from the active duty to the reserve component and work at an airline after fulfilling a required amount of time of active service. The Air Force still has a leg up on the airlines when it comes to job satisfaction, he said. “Maybe I’m on a limb here, but I think there’s not many guys who go ‘Yeah, you know, flying an F-22 is good, I’d rather go fly over the Mississippi 37 times a month,’ ” he said. (See also: Attacking the Pilot Shortage, The Pilot Inventory Problem)