The Marine Corps has increased the number of monthly flight hours for its combat pilots who now log substantially more time in the cockpit than their Air Force counterparts.
Both services say they are facing shortages of pilots and aircraft, with many of the latter grounded awaiting maintenance. But Marine officials say their service has nevertheless made progress in boosting the number of flight hours for pilots over the past year.
Notes an American media report:
The Marines are averaging between 14 to 16 hours a month per pilot per aircraft, while the Air Force is averaging just a little above nine to 10 hours per pilot per month, according to testimony Wednesday from Gen. Glenn M. Walters, the Marine Corps assistant commandant, and Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen W. Wilson at a Senate Armed Services hearing on military readiness.
Average monthly flight hours is an important metric for the services, an indicator of how much training and experience their pilots have. The Corps has frequently cited lower flight hours as a potential reason for numerous air mishaps that have plagued the Marines over the last couple years.
The Marine Corps suffered 12 incidents in 2017 that resulted in deaths or damages in excess of $2 million, incidents which are known as Class A Mishaps.
One senator asked Williams why he thought Marine Corps pilots were logging more flight hours than Air Force pilots. He responded: “I don’t have a good reason why they are ahead of us.”
He did say, however, that the Air Force was working to put more planes and more pilots in the air for longer periods. “We are trying to increase about an hour per month going forward this year,” he said. [source]