Air Force Retains Pilots
It’s too early to know how the new coronavirus pandemic could impact ongoing Air Force efforts to decrease the pilot shortage, the head of Air Education and Training Command said Friday.
“Well, it’s not helping,” said AETC Commander Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, who acknowledged that the service’s undergraduate pilot training capacity has been reduced due to the spread of COVID-19.
Though the production of new pilots could suffer, there is a silver lining: Usually, during times of crisis, the Air Force is able to retain a greater number of experienced pilots who might have retired and moved to the commercial sector, Webb said during the teleconference with reporters.
Current efforts to get servicemembers to voluntarily extend their contracts may not be enough, the Pentagon says.
“Whether it’s patriotism or [lack of] job opportunities, we tend to see those who may be getting out or those who have recently gotten out want to return to service inside our Air Force. I expect that we will see some of that to a degree, which will help mitigate that,” he said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has left the world economy in shambles, with the commercial airline industry, in particular, facing hardships as travel restrictions have led to a sharp decrease in the number of flights and passengers.
While commercial airlines were once a prime recruiter of former Air Force pilots — offering pay and perks the service cannot match — many companies such as JetBlue Airways and Southwest Airlines have instituted a hiring freeze, while others like American Airlines have offered leave-of-absence options to employees in an attempt to curb spending.
Courtesy of Air Force Times