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Pilot Shortages Looming

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U.S. Army
Friday, March 31, 2017

March 31, 2017

There is a “significant inventory gap” of Regular Army aviation warrant officers, largely the result of seven years of strained funding, a top service official told Congress.

Reduced budgets have resulted in reduced training opportunities as available funds have gone to paying for short-term operational priorities. Compounding the Army’s aviator shortage is an increase in the number of retirement-eligible pilots and aggressive recruiting campaigns in the commercial aviation sector that are attracting warrant officers with higher pay and adjusted entry requirements, Maj. Gen. Erik Peterson, Army Aviation director, told the House Armed Services Committee’s subcommittee on military personnel.

Aviation warrant officer attrition rates have historically been around 7 percent over the past decade but are now approaching 9 percent, Peterson said. More than 25 percent of warrants are retirement-eligible.

The current pilot fill rates in combat aviation brigades are acceptable, Peterson said. “We are currently achieving marginally acceptable manning by relying on senior aviation warrant officers serving in junior positions.”

Shortages are looming mostly in the Regular Army, he said, but he warned, “without deliberate action, shortfalls can be expected across the Total Army force.”