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Airlines Step Up Hiring So Air Force Boosts Retention Pay

Posted by Colin Clark on


An Air Force pilot, Lt. Col. Chris Pitts, in the cockpit of his F-35A.

PENTAGON: Eager to stem the flow of Air Force pilots chasing bigger paychecks and cushier gigs with America’s airlines, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson announced today the service is increasing what used to be called flight pay for the first time since 1999.

US airlines hired 4,000 pilots last year, many of them former military pilots. Wilson said officers will now get $1,000 a month, up from $850 and enlisted will get $600 up from $400 a month. It looks as if the pay is going up because the Air Force just isn’t retaining as many pilots as it had expected to. The service, Wilson said. will also try to recruit up to 25 former military pilots for one-year contracts to serve on critical rated staff positions. Many staff jobs require rated pilots to understand the technicalities they deal with.

Wilson also named Brig. Gen. Michael G. Koscheski as head of the Aircrew Crisis Task Force. Assigning a general officer is an indication, along with the task force’s name, that the Air Force is beginning to get really worried about pilot retention and that the effort needs clearer focus.

Intriguingly, Wilson said the service’s attempts to improve drone pilot retention were on track and that no new measures were needed.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and Secretary Heather Wilson at Holloman AFB Light Attack Experiment.

Since it is late August and there isn’t much news (aside from all that foreign stuff dealing with North Korea, Venezuela, China and ships hitting ships) Wilson also mentioned the “possibility” of a follow-on to the Light Attack Experiment, presuming the Air Force decides to go ahead with the program that isn’t na official program. It would involve a “combat experiment” similar to Combat Dragon II in Iraq that involved the Vietnam-era OV-10.

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