The Pilot Inventory Problem

Gen. Paul Selva told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday a potential pilot shortage likely will become a “readiness issue,” though he acknowledged “it is not upon us” yet. Selva, the nominee to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, cited three dynamics that could impact the “pilot inventory.” First, he said, “is the exponential expansion of the airline industry internationally,” noting the high ?demand for English-speaking pilots. Second, is the approaching retirement of many pilots. And, finally, Selva acknowledged a “decline in production of military pilots.” Combined, he said, “each of those three will conspire over time to place heavier demands by the industry on the military inventory of pilots that are their preference.” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said he has had several conversations with Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh about this issue, noting the problem is one “that’s not very often talked about,” even though “it is a serious thing.” Gen. Darren McDew, the nominee to replace Selva as commander of US Transportation Command, said, “Although the numbers don’t say that it’s here … the discussion is in our cockpits today.” (Selva’s answers to advanced questions.) (McDew’s answers to advanced questions.)