Peace Time: March 6, 2003


The Canadian air force is the latest to be caught short by the difficulty of keeping pilots in the service. Back in the 1990s, the air force noted that it took six years and cost nearly $4 million (all money amounts in US dollars) to fully train a CF-18 fighter pilot. At that point, the pilot was making about $50,000 a year, but could increase their pay 20-40 percent by taking a job as a commercial airline pilot. The air force was short ten percent of the pilots it needed and faced with the situation getting worse. So in 1998, the government agreed to pay military pilots a $10,000 a year bonus, but only for five years. That time is up, and the government is reluctant to extend the program. The current recession in the airline industry may take some of the heat off, but as soon as hiring picks up for commercial pilots, the air force is going to start losing a lot more of those $4 million pilots. 


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