The Peacetime Tempo of Air Mobility Operations: Meeting Demand and Maintaining Readiness

by Brian G. Chow


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The dual objectives of U.S. peacetime air mobility operations have long been to meet peacetime demand and to maintain wartime readiness. The 9/11 attacks and subsequent U.S. responses have only reinforced both goals. Questions have arisen, however, as to whether these objectives are being adequately met in light of the reduced resources that have characterized the post-Cold War period. Accordingly, this report compares the peacetime tempo of air mobility operations during the Cold War with that of the post-Cold War era. The author found that the Air Mobility Command (AMC) faces problems that hinder its ability to conduct its operations cost-effectively. For example, during FY 2000 and FY 2001, the copilots of all key AMC airlifters and tankers encountered a flying-hour shortage for meeting their training requirements. This shortage will likely recur from time to time following the culmination of Operation Enduring Freedom. Moreover, during the 1980s and the 1990s, all key AMC airlifters had an increasing number of pilots per flight, leading to a decline in training time spent actually piloting as opposed to merely observing. Moreover, AMC was found to be recouping a decreasing share of its training and operating expenses and to still be flying a large number of nonpaying passengers. The author concludes by offering measures that AMC can take to alleviate its recurring flying-hour shortage as well as to address its declining revenue base and other problems. For example, one measure that would increase AMC's flexibility in meeting fluctuating demand would be to add a capability for quickly and reversibly converting AMC aircraft from cargo and fuel carriers into dedicated passenger carriers.

Table of Contents

  • Summary

  • Preface

    All Prefatory Materials

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Is AMC Flying Less?

  • Chapter Three

    Do Actual Numbers of Copilots and Aircraft Commanders Deviate from Those Authorized?

  • Chapter Four

    Do Pilots Spend Less Time in Piloting?

  • Chapter Five

    How Does Actual Flying Deviate from That Planned?

  • Chapter Six

    Is Commercial Augmentation Taking a Larger Share of Flying Hours?

  • Chapter Seven

    Potential Problems in Achieving Cost-Effective Operations

  • Chapter Eight

    Suggested Corrective Measures for Identified Problems

  • Appendix

Research conducted by

The research reported here was sponsored by the United States Air Force and conducted under the auspices of RAND's Project AIR FORCE, the Air Force federally funded research and development center (FFRDC) for studies and analyses.

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