Pilot Shortage Looming in Air Force?

NGAUS Washington Report

(Dec. 31, 2013) The Air Force could face a shortage of pilots when the commercial airline industry begins hiring thousands of flyers to replace those set to retire. The airline industry could hire 50,000 pilots over the next 10 years, taking many of them from the Air Force, according to a story last week in Foreign Policy.

The topic was discussed at a meeting of leadership of the active-component Air Force, the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve in July. Four-star generals in the service addressed it during an Air Crew Summit at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., in the fall.

"That's the level of attention this is getting," an Air Force official told the magazine.

Dick Newton, executive vice president of the Air Force Association in Washington, D.C., told the magazine, "As the current demand for pilots grows from the U.S. airline industry, so will Air Force pilots be compelled to leave the service for civilian cockpits. Coupled with the recent grounding of Air Force flying squadrons as a result of sequestration, many Air Force pilots aren't sure what the future has in store for them."

The service has a current shortage of about 600 pilots. It has 4,400 in the active component, Guard and Reserve, but needs about 5,000.