Air Force Pilots:

U.S. Air Force Requirements, Inventory, and Related Data

NSIAD-88-163: Published: Jun 1, 1988. Publicly Released: Jun 1, 1988.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO provided Air Force pilot requirements and inventory data for use in evaluating future proposals to enhance pilot compensation.

GAO found that: (1) the Air Force authorized 23,300 pilot positions and assigned 23,358 pilots, as of December 31, 1987; (2) updated estimates showed a shortage of about 2,000 pilots for fiscal year (FY) 1992; (3) the Air Force usually met wing-level requirements, but had difficulty meeting staff and military education requirements during shortages; (4) if the current retention rate continues, about half of all pilots entering their 6th year of service would complete their 11th year of service; (5) the Air Force projected that pilot experience levels would decline through FY 1993; (6) pilots comprised 24 percent of the Air Force's 107,338 officers in FY 1987 and accounted for a higher percentage of high-ranking officers than their percentage of total officers; (7) pilots with the rank of captain, major, and lieutenant colonel annually earn $43,749, $51,282, and $61,646, respectively; and (8) in 1981, the Air Force increased aviation career incentive pay rates for pilots with more than 6 years of service in order to improve retention, but the loss rate for such pilots has tripled since FY 1983. GAO also found that Air Force surveys showed that: (1) pilots did not cite dissatisfaction with pay as a primary reason for leaving the Air Force, but dissatisfaction with long duty hours, the quantity of nonflying duties, and an inability to influence job assignment and location; and (2) a bonus of at least $4,000 per year would improve retention for pilots in their 5th through 11th years of service.

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