One Solution to Pilot Shortage: Stop-Loss

Washington Report

(April 11, 2017) The Air Force could ease its pilot shortage by not allowing pilots to walk away. That is one option being considered ahead of talks on the issue between the service and commercial airline executives in mid-May at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.

Gen. Carlton D. Everhart, the commander of Air Mobility Command, told CQ Roll Call that “stop-loss,” forcing pilots to stay in uniform against their will, has been discussed by top generals.

“I said to the [airline] industry . . . if we can’t meet the requirements, the chief could drop in a stop-loss and you need to understand that,” Everhart told the publication, referring to Gen. David L. Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff.
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The Air Force, including the Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve, is short 1,550 pilots, including 950 fighter pilots.

“If I don’t have pilots to fly, the enemy has a vote, and if I can’t put warheads on foreheads, then [ISIS] is winning,” Everhart said.

The problem is not only money, although pilots who jump to the commercial airlines do earn larger salaries. Everhart said the high operations tempo has pushed out some pilots, putting more pressure on those that remain.

But pilots at home station often don’t fly enough to keep pilots happy because of insufficient training funds and too few maintainers—another problem—to keep the aging and broken aircraft off the ground. Plus, Everhart said, pilots are often asked to perform administrative tasks because office personnel have been let go to save money.

“It’s all connected,” he said.