The Air Force is offering some substantial benefits for applicants with professional aviation experience who are willing to enlist in a nine-year contract. According to W.J. Hennigan of the L.A. Times, the Air Force is short 200 fighter pilots this year and that could increase to 700 by 2021 if positions are not filled.
Some enticing features of the contract include a $225,000 signing bonus, as well as $34,500 to $97,400 salary and benefits. If these incentives aren't enough to fill vacancies the Air Force will be under scrutiny because they have begun to fund one of the worlds most expensive aerospace programs.
Part of the funding for the new project, F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet, includes $6 million each pilot training fees and the entire program could end up costing $400 billion.
One reason that the Air Force has such a hard time finding recruits is because commercial pilots get paid better and companies like U.S. Airways and American Airlines are expecting a high number of retiring pilots in the next five years.
However, the FAA is raising the requirements for co-pilots to gain their certification from 250 flight hours to 1500 hours. Dennis Prokopowicz told Hennigan that, "Getting that kind of experience for a civilian pilot is hard to come by. Renting a Cessna can cost around $100 per hour. You don't have to pay for that in the Air Force."
With such a large anticipated shortage in the aerospace and defense industry it would be a good idea for job seekers to consider earning a professional aviation certification. It is important to keep the new requirements in mind when deciding which certified training institute is right for you.