Air Force, airline industry working on joint solution to pilot shortage
WASHINGTON – The Air Force is working with commercial airlines to find ways to overcome a shortage in the number of pilots needed to fly commercial and military aircraft.
Gen. Carlton D. Everhart, Air Mobility Commander for the service, met this week with top officials from Delta, United and other airlines to discuss the shrinking pool of pilots, and what to do about it. The meeting was a precursor to one planned for May to be led by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein and industry executives, Everhart said.
The issue is getting high-level attention and the May meeting is expected to generate quick actions to relieve some of the pressure on the military and commercial sector, he said.
“The reality is that we as a nation are not producing the amount of pilots we need to source the commercial requirement, the business requirement, the private requirement and the military requirement,” Goldfein said earlier this month in Washington at an American Enterprise Institute conference on the state of the Air Force.
One idea discussed was to bring more predictability to Air Force Reserve commitments, so a pilot could have a successful reserve and commercial career. Other ideas included potential adjustments to required flight hours pilots need to join a commercial airline, debt forgiveness and other quality-of-life changes that would help both sectors, Everhart said.
“We are looking at all the possibilities, the ways we can increase the available pool [of pilots] that serves both the military and commercial industry, without going into direct competition,” he said.
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