September 20, 2018

RCAF: We Need Pilots


We’ve all heard of the current pilot shortage plaguing the aviation industry. The shortage has now reached a point in the RCAF that they are broadcasting their needs to the public. In addition to the current shortage of around 275 pilots, the Air Force needs more aircraft mechanics and other maintenance personnel.

The RCAF’s Director of Air Readiness, BGen Eric Kenny, was quoted by the National Post as saying, “Right now, we’re doing everything we can to make sure we recruit, train and retain enough personnel to do our current mission.”

The RCAF currently deploys aircraft abroad in Mali, Latvia, Ukraine, Romania and Iraq, missions which are in addition to their domestic responsibilities for continental defence and search and rescue. The RCAF is authorized to have 1580 pilots, meaning the shortage represents 17 percent of authorized strength. The shortage also extends to navigators and sensor technicians that form part of the crew on certain aircraft.

Aircraft are not grounded yet due to the shortage as existing service members are picking up the slack. Various initiatives have been undertaken by the Forces to resolve the situation, such as offering tax breaks, intensive recruitment drives and even recruiting older military pilots back into the Air Force. There is even talk of extending commitment times after graduating from flight training.

The RCAF’s current training program is capable of producing only 115 new pilots per year, but some senior officers say that’s not enough to keep up with those retiring from the Forces to pursue commercial opportunities.

“We know what capabilities we’re receiving and now we can start working to make sure that we have personnel that are trained to be able to meet those requirements,” Kenny said. “But I’m not going to lie: It’s definitely a challenge.”