USAF leaders discuss ideas to address pilot shortage


The US Air Force (USAF) has hosted a discussion on how to address aircrew crisis, which has left the service short of more than 1,500 pilots.

The 2017 Aircrew Summit was held as part of the airforce’s Aircrew Crisis Task Force’s ongoing efforts to address the service’s growing shortage of experienced aircrew.

More than 60 senior leaders from the USAF participated in the discussion held at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland, US, to share solutions to overcome pilot shortage.

USAF chief of staff general David L Goldfein said: “We’re 1,500 pilots short, and if we don’t find a way to turn this around, our ability to defend the nation is compromised.

“We’re doing this to increase the readiness and lethality of the force. This is a warfighting imperative.”

The USAF asked participants to come up with solutions, including pilot training limitations, filling staff positions, and retention.

The service’s senior leaders and other experts discussed strategies, plans and initiatives to change the way the airforce recruits, trains, manages and employs its aircrew.

"We’re doing this to increase the readiness and lethality of the force."

The leaders at the summit were updated on proposed retention initiatives to limit and incentivise non-command 365-day deployments, production initiatives that prioritise flying training and offer alternative methods of aviator training, as well as requirement initiatives that adjust crew ratios and balance instructor pilot numbers, the USAF stated.

The airforce also proposed increasing assignment process transparency and career predictability for airmen.

Participants suggested developing pilot production through contract support or additional aircraft, which would enable the airforce to train more pilots.

They also discussed options for limiting staff positions and lengthy deployments for fighter pilots, which currently account for the majority of the service’s pilot shortage.


Image: Major general Lawrence Martin at the annual Aircrew Summit. Photo: courtesy of the USAF photo by Scott M Ash.