Study: Contractors Key to Air Force Pilot Shortage

NGAUS Washington Report

June 19, 2018

The Air Force does not have a shortage of people who want to be pilots. It simply does not have the manpower to train them. That’s a conclusion in a report released Monday by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies. The report is called “Protecting the ‘Pipeline’: Overcoming the Air Force Pilot Shortage.”

The report suggests the service “find innovative uses of contractors in the training pipeline.” This would prevent taking them from front-line squadrons that still need to fly missions. Air Force Times reported on the study.

The service trains about 1,100 pilots each year, but wants to increase that to 1,400 by 2019 and 1,600 by 2020.’’

The authors of the report, retired Maj. Gen. Lawrence Stutzriem, the institute’s director of research, and Michael Sirak, a senior visiting fellow, say the service has plenty of people who want to be pilots, so the problem is getting them trained.

They note that the Navy uses contract instructors and the Army hires civilians and contractors to instruct young pilots without a drop in the quality of the training.

The report, too, says revitalizing a warrant-officer corps to fly aircraft is a bad idea. For one thing, training a warrant officer to fly costs the same as teaching a commissioned officer. And warrant-officer retention rates are unlikely to be any greater and could possibly be worse as their pay would peak at around the same as captains.

“They’ll exit at a higher rate, so what does that fix?” Stutzreim told reporters Monday at the release of the report.