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Need for pilots to increase in Middle East, says Boeing projection

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, at 4:45 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, at 11:58 a.m.

Air Force pilots pass up big resigning bonuses

Air Force fighter pilots are passing up $225,000 bonuses in exchange for a nine-year commitment, according to the Air Force Times.

The pilots aren’t taking the offer because budget cuts mean reduced flying hours, acting Secretary of the Air Force Eric Fanning told the Air Force Times.

“If you’re not flying your F-22 because it’s grounded, you might as well go fly something else,” Fanning said.

The Air Force can’t compete with increasingly lucrative offers from the private sector, Fanning said.

Only a few pilots have applied for the bonuses since they were offered in June to 250 eligible fighter pilots.

Pilots can take half the bonus up front in a lump sum, minus taxes, with the remainder to be paid over the nine years of the contract, the report said.

In the past, pilots were offered five-year contracts with bonuses of $25,000 per year.

The Air Force had hoped that 162 pilots would take the offer.

Molly McMillin

Airlines in the Middle East will need nearly 100,000 new pilots and technicians over the next 20 years to support expanding demand for new airplanes, according to a projection by Boeing.

North America, meanwhile, will need 85,700 pilots and 97,900 technicians over the next 20 years, according to the 2013 Pilot and Technician Outlook released at the Dubai Air Show this week.

The aviation industry in the Middle East is growing faster than the world average, the outlook said.

“We’re seeing a significant, urgent need for competent aviation personnel in the Middle East and across the globe due to the growth in airline fleets,” Sherry Carbary, vice president of Boeing Flight Services, said in a statement. “We are working hard with airlines, regulators, independent flight schools and other industry groups to make training accessible, affordable and efficient so that anyone in the Middle East – or anywhere else in the world – who qualifies can become a pilot or maintenance technician in this high-tech industry.”

The 2013 outlook projects significant increases in pilot demand, compared to previous forecasts, in all regions of the world except for Europe, which declined slightly over last year’s outlook.

In the Middle East, more than 60 percent of the pilot demand will be driven by increased deliveries of twin-aisle, widebody airplanes.

The introduction of more-efficient and smarter planes will require fewer mechanics over time, as aging aircraft, which tend to require more maintenance, are retired from service.

New airplane technologies with more advanced components are likely to lead to lower maintenance requirements and lower technician demand in some areas.

By region, the outlook projects demand for 192,300 pilots and 215,300 technicians in the Asia Pacific; 99,700 pilots and 108,200 technicians in Europe; 48,600 pilots and 47,600 technicians in Latin America; 16,500 pilots and 15,900 technicians in Africa; and 15,200 pilots and 18,000 technicians for Russia and CIS.

The increased demand has gotten the attention of the airline industry, Carbary said, who noted that the new generation of pilots and technicians need to be trained in new ways.

Boeing is continuing to look at innovative training methods, including tablets eBooks, gaming technology and three-dimensional electronic modeling techniques as it moves away from paper and chalkboard-based learning, she said.

“We need to make sure aviation is as great a career option for the world’s youth as it is for us,” Carbary said.

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