Commercial Pilot Jobs to Takeoff?

The US military pays certain career fields “bonuses” and other incentive pays for a fairly simple reason:  to keep people in the military who would otherwise make far more money outside of it.  Some have complained, then, when the economy turns:  For example, when the airline industry took a dive, some questioned what reason there could be for giving military pilots incentive pay.

The Air Force Times claims the “commercial pilot job market” is now set “for a boom,” however.

After nearly a four-year drought of openings, airlines are predicting they will hire more pilots in the next decade than they ever have. Aircraft maker Boeing forecasts a need for 466,650 more commercial pilots by 2029 — an average of 23,300 a year.

They also noted that changes in the Air Force culture may affect Air Force officers’ ability to join the airlines:

Despite the high percentage of military aviators at Southwest, [Rocky Calkins, a former F-15 pilot who now is Southwest’s pilot hiring manager] said he has seen the number coming from the Air Force drop because many airmen simply can’t meet the minimum pilot-in-command hours needed to land the job. Southwest requires its pilots to have 1,000 flying hours.

Some Air Force pilots are getting 800 flying hours before they get transferred to fly unmanned vehicles, Calkins said.

The article says the Air Force isn’t worried about the commercial sector siphoning off pilots.

The Air Force is having no problem retaining airmen right now…Retention for fighter pilots with more than 17 years of rated service is the highest since 2004 and second-highest in the last 20 years.

But if there’s competition for its pilots, the Air Force is ready to sweeten the pot, [spokesman Maj. Joel] Harper said.

There’s the “natural call to serve” among Air Force pilots, Harper said, and cold hard cash — bonuses of up to $25,000 for qualified aviators.