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Predicting Active Duty Air Force Pilot Attrition Given an Anticipated Increase in Major Airline Pilot Hiring

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Doctoral thesis

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The U.S. Air Force has traditionally been a significant source of pilots for the major airline industries. For much of the 2000s, two wars and a sputtering economy aided in managing the attrition of Air Force pilots. But now, amid myriad converging factors, there is a large projected increase in major airline pilot hiring that resembles the late 1990s surge, in which the Air Force endured its largest loss of pilots since the post-Vietnam War pilot exodus. Using logistic regression analysis and focusing on active duty Air Force pilots in the first three years following completion of their initial active duty service commitment ADSC, this dissertation predicts future pilot attrition given the estimated increase in major airline hiring and recommends several policies that the Air Force can implement to better weather an increase in attrition. This dissertation finds that attrition depends strongly on major airline hiring. Additionally annual attrition each year from 2015 through 2020 is expected to be above the 2002-2012 annual average. The impact of attrition is not spread evenly among the aircraft communities, and, even though mobility and fighter pilots account for the first- and second-highest proportions of future total attrition, respectively, it is the fighter community that is in the middle of a pilot shortage that is not likely to improve for at least the rest of the decade. For these reasons, this dissertation recommends re-instituting the 50 percent Aviator Continuation Pay up-front lump-sum option and increasing the yearly value to 30,000 in 2018 for fighter pilots following completion of their initial ADSC. Additionally, it is recommended that the Air Force index Aviation Career Incentive Pay to inflation for at least all active duty pilots with 6-13 years of aviation service. Enacting both measures would be greatly cost-effective in terms of the training costs retained, and doing so would help in lowering pilot attrition in all communities,

Subject Categories:

  • Aircraft
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations

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