by Capt. Kathleen Ice
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs
1/25/2016 - SCOTT AIR FORCE, Ill. -- Air
Mobility Command is participating in a national-level discussion about
current and future-projected pilot manning shortfalls.
AMC's commander facilitated a meeting Jan. 7 with representatives from
the Federal Aviation Administration, airline trade associations,
academia, and several airlines, to include the major carriers.
"Pilot manning is a national issue and not specific to only the military
or commercial sector," said Gen. Carlton Everhart, AMC commander.
The group gathered to discuss pilot manning shortfalls caused by mass
retirements; stricter licensing requirements for first officers; new
crew rest duty rules, and other recent changes, said Merle Lyman, chief
of the DoD Commercial Airlift Division.
In 2007, the Fair Treatment of Experienced Pilots Act, or the "Age 65
Law", extended pilot retirement age from 60 to 65 in order to retain
experience, according to the FAA website. At the time, this extended a
large number of pilots' careers. But recently, that large group has
started to hit 65 and retire, Lyman said.
The minimum flight hours required to earn a commercial airline transport
pilot certificate jumped in 2013 from 250 hours to 750 hours for
military trained pilots, 1000 hours for pilots with a degree from an
aviation school, and 1,500 hours for all others, according to the FAA's
This change forced many to invest more time and money to get/stay certified, or choose a different career path.
Another change came in 2014: stricter regulations, which govern how many
hours a pilot can be on duty. With these restrictions in place, pilots
started flying less in a given amount of time, requiring a larger pool
of pilots to fill in scheduling gaps.
The pilot manning shortfalls have especially hit regional airlines hard,
with several rural areas no longer getting air service, Lyman said.
Current and projected shortfalls may impact both civilian and military
operations, particularly because many commercial pilots also have
military obligations as Reservists.
AMC stepped up to bring everyone together.
"While individual efforts have been taking place in the industry, our
aim was to encourage collaboration and go forward with a united
solution," Lyman said. "Many interesting proposals were brought to the
table for consideration at the meeting,"
They will continue to discuss ideas, and eventually senior
representatives from industry and the military plan to meet with the
Chief of Staff of the Air Force, possibly as early as spring.
"There is strength in collaboration," said Everhart. "I'm confident
that, working together, we'll be able to develop solutions to any
challenges with pilot sourcing."