September 24, 2011:
The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) needs to recruit and train 125 new pilots a year in order to maintain sufficient people to keep all military aircraft operational. But with a growing number of pilots reaching retirement age, and not staying in any longer than they have to, the RCAF is having increasing problems getting the 125 new pilots each year. There are other reasons for the shortage. Younger pilots are increasingly leaving, in large part because they don’t get much time in the air. Where are all these highly trained pilots going? For men and women who want to fly, a career as a commercial pilot looks more attractive.
Another reason more military pilots are retiring, or leaving before retirement age, is because commercial airlines are suffering higher retirements, especially as Baby Boomer pilots reach mandatory retirement age and leave. Thus the airlines are more vigorously recruiting military pilots.
As a stopgap measure, the RCAF is asking retired military pilots to return to service. So far this year, about a dozen have done so. With the proper financial and other incentives (like where they will serve), more retirees can be persuaded to rejoin. At the same time, the RCAF is seeking to make military service more attractive for the younger pilots. But for the moment, there is a growing shortage.