Eager to stem the flow of Air Force pilots chasing bigger paychecks and cushier gigs with America’s airlines, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson announced today the service is increasing what used to be called flight pay for the first time since 1999.

US airlines hired 4,000 pilots last year, many of them former military pilots. Wilson said officers will now get $1,000 a month, up from $850 and enlisted will get $600 up from $400 a month. It looks as if the pay is going up because the Air Force just isn’t retaining as many pilots as it had expected to. The service, Wilson said. will also try to recruit up to 25 former military pilots for one-year contracts to serve on critical rated staff positions. Many staff jobs require rated pilots to understand the technicalities they deal with.

Source: Breaking Defense

Why it’s on our radar: The Air Force is in the midst of a serious pilot retention problem, which of course is a major readiness issue. Hence, the service’s attempts to entice retired pilots to return on contracts. But it’s not clear spending a bit more money will suffice; the airline gigs are a lot sweeter and the benefits packages much better. 

But the Air Force isn’t alone; civilian airlines are also suffering from shortages. “According to Cowen & Company, a staggering 42 percent of American airline pilots will retire over the next decade, approximately 22,000 in total. The number of U.S. pilot corps trainees currently stands around 19,000,” says this report.