Peace Time: February 19, 2003


The all volunteer U.S. Air Force is having trouble hanging on to enlisted members of aircraft crews. The pilots are officers, but on larger aircraft, many of the other crew members are enlisted. For example, the boom operators on aerial tankers or loadmasters on transports. So now the air force is offering monthly bonuses for those career enlisted airmen who volunteer to transfer over to aircrew jobs. The monthly bonuses range from $150-400. But this wont be enough to fill all the vacancies in job categories like in-flight refueling specialists, flight engineers, loadmasters, airborne communications and electronics specialists, airborne battle management systems specialist, Airborne mission systems specialists, flight attendants, aerial gunners and airborne cryptologic linguists. The constant demand for tankers, transports and larger recon aircraft to serve overseas has kept air crews away from home as much as half the time, year in and year out, since the end of the Cold War. Pilots are hard to hold on to as well, but they get paid more than the enlisted aircrew, and get to fly the airplane as well. So it's the enlisted aircrew who are leaving in larger numbers and need more encouragement to stay.


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