Widening the Training Pipeline: Are Warrant Officer Instructor Pilots the Best Solution to Increase Pilot Production
AIR COMMAND AND STAFF COLL MAXWELL AFB AL MAXWELL AFB United States
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The United States Air Force is struggling to cope with a worldwide pilot shortage that has left the service over 2,000 pilots short of what is needed to fully man its squadrons. With pilot retention declining in a time of unprecedented airline hiring, the service is desperately trying to find ways to increase pilot production. In order to recover from the current shortage, the Air Force has determined it needs to increase annual production from 1,200 to 1,600 pilots per year.However, despite identifying a need for increased production, the service has yet to identify a clear method to accomplish this task. A thirty-three percent increase of students will necessitate an increase of undergraduate pilot training UPT instructors, and where the Air Force intends to find additional instructors given the current pilot shortage is unclear. This research paper seeks to fill this gap in knowledge by answering the question, are warrant officers the best solution to increase UPT instructor manning, in order to achieve the overarching goal of producing 1,600 pilots per year To answer the question, this study used a problemsolution framework to compare four methods of increasing pilot production warrant officer UPT instructors, contracted civilian UPT instructors, increasing the number of first assignment instructor pilots, and timeline reductions via the Pilot Training Next program. The four methods were assessed against five criteria timeliness of implementation, personnel cost savings, training squadron manning stability, impact on operational squadron manning, and quality of training. Ultimately, this study concluded that warrant officers are not the best option, however, neither are any of the other methods. The problem of increasing pilot production is too complex to be solved with a single, silver-bullet solution.
- Personnel Management and Labor Relations