The head of the Army aviation, today said that the service is about six years away from reversing its shortage of pilots for the AH-64 Apache and other rotary-wing aircraft.
“We are short pilots … we are under our authorization for aviators, most predominantly seen in the AH-64 community,” Maj. Gen. William Gayler, commanding general of the Army’s Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker, Alabama, told an audience at the Association of the United States Army’s Sept. 5 Aviation Hot Topic event.
“We under-accessed, based on financial limitations, to bring in the number of aviators that we were required to meet an operational requirement from Forces Command.”
Related Link: AH-64 Apache Longbow versus Mi-28 Night Hunter or Havoc
Between 2008 and 2016, the Army fell short in accessions of aviators, creating a shortage of 731 slots.
Since then, the service has reduced the shortage to about 400 through increased accessions of new aviators and paying retention bonuses of up to $35,000 each to seasoned pilots, Gayler said, adding that he didn’t have an exact number of the number of Apache pilots the Army is short.
At this time when the airline industry has a huge pilot shortage as well. we have lost some Army rotary-wing aviators to them,” Gayler said.
As an incentive, the Army has given out about 341 retention bonuses to pilots since late 2015 that were worth up to $35,000 each, Gayler said. He added that the biggest bonuses went to Apache pilots, but would not say how many received them.
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