Discussion in 'Air Force Academy - USAFA' started by Wishful, Aug 11, 2016.
The article with related links:
Secretary James' recent press briefing:
There is an even greater shortage of ROV pilots
Push Hard, Press Forward
Anyone know if the pilot shortage is specific to the fighter and UAV communities, or if other airframes are also affected?
It is multiple airframes. Fighters are the most visible/commented upon, but this issue is pretty much AF wide. Some aircraft had their "required" crew ratios adjusted to make the spreadsheets look better...
Does this necessarily mean that more aviation spots will be available out of the academy? Could it possibly mean cross commissioning into AF aviation might be more possible for graduates of other academies? My son is at West Point, but was also offered an appointment to USAFA. Like many, flying jets was a dream he gave up when he accepted the WP appointment. Now I wonder if the shortage might provide another opportunity.
What say you experts?
....i know the goal isn't to keep training more and more pilots, but rather to keep the experienced pilots the AF has spent tons on already to train. But still, if there is a shortage in general, another way to address it is training and developing new pilots. So??
For him to x-commission the Army would have to let him go too. It is both sides of the fence that has to agree for the change.
I also think that this is really a cyclical thing due to the airline shortage. Sooner or later the airlines are going to slow down in their hiring process. If you delve into the topic from the airline perspective you can understand what has caused this issue. The FAA has a mandatory sit down for pilots. I believe currently it is 62 yr old. The mid to late 90s was the last time the airlines were hiring at a fast pace. After 9/11 the industry took a huge hit and really were not hiring a lot anymore compared to pre-9/11.
We had many friends that were furloughed because of their line number. (Last in First Out).
~ One of good friends left at the 10 yr marker for the AF, and started off flying with United (777) to Hawaii. He made it the furthest from being furloughed (@5 yrs). However, each time United furloughed people he kept getting down graded in the aircraft. In the end he was a right seater flying TED (United's puddle jumpers) before they hit his number. He was called back from furlough about 2 yrs ago, but did not return because now he was back in the AF and too close to give up his retirement benefits if he bolted again.
Airlines get a bulk of their pilots that are between 34-42. 34 if they leave at that 1st ability to jump.42 if they stay until they retire. Do the math. 20 yrs later and those guys are retiring at a very fast clip, plus will be for about the next 5-7 years. However, sooner or later that industry will balance out and that will impact the shortage for the AF. In turn, if the pilots are finding it harder to get hired on by the airlines, than that bonus is enticing, especially when they start saying:
~ Well, it is only 2-3 more tours, and airlines are renown for paying very little in the 1st 5 yrs. Thus, they can bank the bonus so when they leave the AF at 20, they will not take a financial hit, they can maintain the same living std.
~~ Our friends that left at 20, and even with their retirement pay, they were taking about a 30K hit for the 1st 5 yrs. Granted after 5 yrs when you move over to the right seat, your pay increases significantly, and many times that is why they will leave at a younger age, because by the time they move over they are making much more money than if they stayed in until 20 and took the retirement pay.
Now with all of that said, as it has been stated already this is more about retention than anything else. The AF can easily fill those slots for UPT. It is filling those IP slots due to retention. This than causes a problem at UPT. If there are not enough IPs they can't keep the UPT pipeline going at 110%.
~ As also stated prior they are already running at 110%. Sims are running 24 hrs a day 6 1/2 days a week. There are not enough T1, 6 or 38s to push more through the pipeline. There are enough daylight hours in the day even if they obtained more T1/6/38 planes and IPs to get them through faster. Logistically that is just 1 of the problems. If you pull from the Op world to the IP world, you still need the school house IPs. Thus, you can't just fill up the UPT bases with more IPs. You need to fill up the schoolhouse at the same time. In both cases, you need more airframes....money they can't afford to spend.
~~ The morale problem is also going to be impacted. Trust me...if you are flying the 16 out of Shaw or Hill, you are not going too be jumping for joy if they drop orders for you to be an IP at Del Rio aka Hell Rio. So what do you do? You say fine...I am 7 day opting and now I am going non-vol. That means as soon as that commitment (i.e. whatever you still owe them) is up you are out. Iows, if they owe 16 months, and the tour is suppose to be 36 months, you are gone in 16 months, and when you add in leave, it could be as little as 13 months. All they did by forcing that IP position was created more poor morale where pilots watching this occur will also say...nope I am out of here if you don't play nice with me.
Do I think that they are going to increase UPT slots dramatically? No. They are running at 110% now. Maybe they will drop more fighters, but they need to keep that heavy balance too. You can't do air refueling if you don't have a KC pilot. You can't get those maintenance parts to the sandbox without a C airframe. The C airframes also typically carry the support personnel to the sandbox. Some also give rides to the Army (jumpers).
I just don't think it really is going to impact anyone at USAFA currently, except maybe they may change the commitment time for pilots hitting UPT. During the years that Bullet was in the AF, the commitment went from 7 to 8 to 9 over the course of 20 years. They can now jump it to 11. If they have to wait 6-9 months to start which is common right now, than add in that 1 yr at UPT. You are talking about them getting out at 35 or 13 yrs in.
They also have another tool in the shed, which they rarely ever want to use because it creates horrible morale. Stop Loss. They have used it before. I.E. start of Gulf 1 and 2. Stop Loss is when they say, yep we know you can walk since your commitment is over, but because your AFSC is so critically manned for Combat status, we will not let you go right now. It is very rare for them to do this, it is really their scorched earth option.
Yes but no. Aviation manning is tricky in any service because there's such a long lead time between selecting someone to go be a pilot and their payoff to that service. That payoff doesn't start when you fill a seat in a squadron. Training and evaluation doesn't end when you get wings pinned on at the end of flight school, and showing up bright eyed and bushy tailed to a squadron you are still a burden to them because you don't have your qualifications to do anything. So your value to the service actually starts when you (slowly, painfully) get some quals and start becoming a trainer and instructing new pilots inside your squadron versus being instructed.
As a result, when services try to figure out aviation manning, they're trying to balance many complicated factors. A lot of it is guessing and reactionary to past behaviors. They can assume based on past trends that X% of people will at some point along the way fail to make it to the endstate of being mission capable in their airframe, whether that's day one of UPT or at a squadron. They can assume Y% of people will be getting out at their initial commitment (which is fine, because you don't NEED everyone to stay in and become a Major). They can assume that based on airframe hours Z% of F-16s (or whatever) will be fully mission capable at a certain time, requiring whatever number of pilots. And, per the T&O (or whatever the AF calls it), you need a certain number of pilots with specific qualifications to be a capable squadron.
Someone who is selected to be a pilot fall of their senior year at USAFA or through AFROTC is not going to be value added to the Air Force for like 3-4+ years, depending on platform. So the Air Force is trying to balance all the above math with predicting what they're going to need in like 5 years when they come down with their number of pilot slot allotments.
The bigger question mark is how you're going to get people to stay in. If the Air Force is pushing people like mad through training to get them to the force and they're still hemorrhaging pilots at their initial commitment no matter how much money you throw at them, it sounds like the Air Force needs to do some soul searching as to why people are getting out.
"So you are saying there's a chance?". Lol, I was dying to use that line .
Pima you are as always a tremendous resource.
I read these articles and just started thinking about by son's thought process when deciding between academies. Overall he determined that the Army was his best choice, but that was much because he knew that flying, like all other commissioning options after graduation, isn't a given, and knowing that, the Army was best for him. Cross commissioning is something he thought about, but didn't think was likely. I was just wondering out loud if pilot shortage could lead to options. I know, the AF probably would never want some stinkin West Point grad, when they have all those pretty boys and girls from USAFA to choose from. But just asking.
AF also "Best guesses" a lot, and bows to other factors (politics, money, etc). We paid experienced C-17 pilots to leave about a year before declaring a shortage of pilots...
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