LOSING TIME: Air Force Pilot Shortage

Oct 27, 2017
Defense Drumbeat

“Every day we live under a continuing resolution is a day we do damage to our military.”  - Mac Thornberry, Chairman, House Armed Services Committee

Air Force Pilot Shortage


The United States Air Force is experiencing a shortfall that has been steadily increasing from 1,555 pilots, back in March, across all mission areas, including 1,211 fighter pilots (Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso testimony to HASC, March 29, 2017). The Air Force, after more than 25 years of global engagement, is feeling the effect that lowered funding is having on its most valuable asset: its people. In an environment where commercial airlines are hiring at unprecedented rates and are targeting military pilots to meet that demand, the Air Force is experiencing a shortfall that directly impacts its ability to carry out vital missions in support of the joint force.


Airmen join the Air Force because they want to fly.  Repeated CRs and funding cuts translate into maintenance backlogs and, consequently, insufficient time in the cockpit.  Additionally, the ability of commercial airlines to offer highly competitive salaries and a more stable operational tempo has created a much more demanding market for trained pilots. All of these factors have combined to create an aviation challenge for the Air Force.


Passing full year authorization and appropriations would allow the Air Force to once again increase in-cockpit training hours and to better resource the maintenance of training aircraft.The House-passed NDAA also authorizes more competitive financial incentives in order to recruit and keep dedicated airmen flying for the United States Air Force.

115th Congress