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Air Force Believes It Has Pilot Shortage Under Control

AF Chief Of Staff Gen David Goldfein Says Fewer Pilots Are Leaving The Service

Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein says that the Air Force is getting a handle on its pilot shortage, which had grown as high as a 2,000-pilot deficit among active duty and reserve units.

Gen. Goldfein told U.S. News in a recent interview that he believes that the pilot numbers have stabilized. "Just this year, we've actually leveled off in terms of folks that are leaving," he said, "and we're just starting to see indications that's starting to trend in an upward direction. I do believe we've successfully arrested the decline."

Goldfein credits a change in the flying schedule with at least part of the reversal. Pilots are now spending an average of 20 hours per month actually flying, and the Air Force would like to see that number increase. In recent years, budget cuts had forced the Air Force to reduce the number of flying hours for pilots to an average under 10 hours per month. That led to less sharp flying skills and contributed to training accidents and incidents, according to senior military officials.

But while the problem may have been at least slowed for the time being, Goldfein says he knows the Air Force is continuing to face competition from commercial airlines, which are facing a worldwide pilot shortage. But he says he hopes the benefits offered by the Air Force, as well as the pride in defending the nation and more time flying will help pilots stay with the service.

(Image from file)

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