A Critical Assessment of Total Force Pilot Requirements, Management, and Training

by Clifford M. Graf II, Harry J. Thie, William W. Taylor, Claire M. Levy, Sheila Nataraj Kirby


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This briefing examines the supply and demand for pilots in the active Air Force, the Air Reserve Component, the Navy, and the Naval Air Reserve in the near term and through fiscal year 2002. The briefing addresses the following questions in particular. What are the historical personnel trends for pilots in terms of accessions, retention, and transfer rates between the active and reserve forces? What are the current requirements for pilots? How are they changing and why? How effective will the current personnel and training policies for pilots be in sustaining active and reserve structures in light of changing requirements and the changing environment? What is the effect of civilian airline demand on the sustainability of the military pilot force? The briefing concludes that the Navy should have no major problems in fulfilling its requirements for pilots. For the Air Force, however, shortages of pilots with sufficient experience are a potential problem after fiscal year 1997. The briefing makes several recommendations to address this problem, including redistributing certain pilot requirements from one major weapon system to others and relying on alternative manning options for Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training instructors. The most obvious solution to pilot shortages — increasing retention now and in the future — is shown not to be the best course of action. The briefing emphasizes a total-force perspective when considering any policy options.

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