The United States (US) Air Force is offering its pilots bonuses of up to $50,000 a year to remain in service amid personnel shortages.
From June 6, 2023, eligible active-duty aviators will have until September 15, 2023, to apply for the fiscal year 2023 Aviation Bonus Program.
Named the Legacy Aviation Bonus Program (AvB), eligible pilots will be able to benefit from an increase in the monetary cap from $35,000 per year up to $50,000 per year.
In a statement the US Air Force, said the scheme was designed to “retain experienced rated officers to meet retention, training and mission-readiness requirements to maintain lethality of the force”.
“Reliable personnel forecasts allow the Air Force to continue executing the warfighting mission,” said Maj. Gen. Albert Miller, Air Force Training and Readiness director. “Our experienced aviators are uniquely qualified to succeed in a combat environment and these incentives are necessary to maintain that talent and competitiveness with our pacing challenge.”
According to Air Force Times the incentive applies to pilots of manned and drone aircraft, air battle managers and combat systems officers.
The Legacy AvB Program applies to aviators with an Undergraduate Flying Training Active Duty Service Commitment expiring in fiscal year 2023 or earlier.
Separate from the Legacy AvB Program, the National Defense Authorization Act directs the Air Force to execute a Rated Officer Retention Demonstration Program.
This allows active-duty manned pilots with no more than three years, but not less than one year, remaining to sign a contract for the maximum monetary amount one to two fiscal years prior to the fiscal year their Undergraduate Flying Training Active Duty Service Commitment expire.
In an effort to get aviators signed up now the Air Force confirmed that the maximum contract amount of $50,000 per year offered under the Legacy Program this year will not be offered next year.
According to Military.com the US Air Force, it has faced problems with pilot shortages for a decade, with anywhere between 1,500 to 2,000 aviators needed.
Issues affecting the number of pilots remaining in the Air Force include the alure of working in the commercial aviation sector where pilots are paid highly competitive salaries, as the carriers themselves struggle to recruit enough pilots.