Tags: air force | increase | drone | pilot | pay

Air Force to Pay Drone Pilots More to Ease Shortage

Thursday, 15 Jan 2015 05:10 PM

The U.S. Air Force plans to more than double monthly incentive pay for some drone operators and seek more recruits to ease a shortage of pilots for the remotely operated aircraft.

With demands growing for the intelligence and surveillance provided by drones, operators are working six 13-hour or 14-hour days a week, said Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James.

“This is a force that is under significant stress,” James said at a Pentagon briefing in Washington.

To help ease the burden and retain skilled operators, James signed a memo authorizing an increase of monthly incentive pay, to $1,500 a month from $650, for certain drone operators nearing the end of their service commitment.

The Air Force also plans to make “maximum use” of the National Guard and Reserve to help fill operator slots and seek volunteers from among qualified drone operators who may have been deployed to other aircraft. The plan also calls for delaying the return of drone operators who’ve been loaned to the program from other aircraft, James said.

While pilots of manned aircraft fly 200 to 300 hours a year, drone operators log 900 to 1,100 hours of flight time a year, she said.

“They’re just worn out,” said General Mark Welsh, the Air Force chief of staff, who joined James at the briefing. “This is not a new problem. It’s been going on since 2007.”

James described the measures authorized today as “first steps” in the effort to relieve the stress, with more actions to come.

The need for additional drone pilots first arose in 2008, when the Air Force began transferring fighter pilots to command unmanned attack and reconnaissance aircraft.

In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration has issued a guide to help local police tame the rapid increase of small drone operators than can endanger aircraft and people on the ground.

 

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The U.S. Air Force plans to more than double monthly incentive pay for some drone operators and seek more recruits to ease a shortage of pilots for the remotely operated aircraft.
air force, increase, drone, pilot, pay
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2015-10-15
Thursday, 15 Jan 2015 05:10 PM
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