Military AircrewA forum for the professionals who fly the non-civilian hardware, and the backroom boys and girls without whom nothing would leave the ground. Army, Navy and Airforces of the World, all equally welcome here.
As chairman for all fighter pilots in the RDAF (Royal Danish Air Force) I see one of my tasks to ensure that we in the future also can maintain a continuity and a reasonable mix of pilots based on experience in our organization.
When I look back at the last 10 years, I see different tragedies, geo-economical fluctuations and political decisions that have influenced the airline industry and thereby also the recruitment of civilian pilots.
I have this thesis that a bubble exists based on retirement age. When EU and the USA extended the retirement age from 60 to 65 years of age they de facto halted the recruitment of pilots to replace retiring aircrews. If this is a correct assessment then recruitment of new aircrews will start up again in the coming years to continue the normal flow.
When I negotiate with our employer, RDAF, then I lack the ammo to negotiate a decent agreement that ensures that the Air Force will continue to be an attractive employer in the future. Unfortunately the Air Force only looks back in time, and here they see that almost nobody has left for a civilian job the last ten years, and they contribute this not to general trends in the civilian world but to their attractiveness as an employer. But if my thesis holds water and a retirement bubble really exists then this conjunction with a subpar work climate in the Air Force, could lead to a large flow of experienced military pilots leaving for the civilian sector in a short amount of time.
Is there somebody out there willing to comment on this, and hopefully confirm or deny this thesis?
There have been at least 3 guys in EK who have left the airline to go back and work for the Canadian Air Force - a complete change to previous flows
What you'll find affecting the industry is not so much a retirement bubble but a lack of interest from youngsters joining aviation. As you see retirees leaving there will be a lack of pilots to replace them. Many join for the lifestyle which has been eroded beyond recognition. You have to pay thousands for a license and you're not guarenteed a job. There is more social stability doing law, accounting, IT or whatever - at least you can see your kids grow up and avoid the unfortunate times of flying through the night.
What you'll find affecting the industry is not so much a retirement bubble but a lack of interest from youngsters joining aviation
Looking on CVs coming to our airline, I would say otherwise: surprisingly there are still hundreds of yound pilots, fresh (F)ATPL looking for their first job and willing to selfsponsor the rating. I suppose there are 2-3 time more of those who looking for a job but cannot or not willing to selfsponsor. Now, we are actually rather small airline, I image big names attracting considerably more applicants.
If the aviation industry had an redundency scheme like the civil servants (on strike at the moment) of 5 years redundency pay (yes that's correct 5 years pay), this industry would have no trouble moving people on.
People often see a future "bubble" based on retirement age, that in the real world can never exist. The projections are often based on a linear pattern of growth that often fails to materilize as projected. In addition retirements don't all occur at a normal retirement date. In reality, redundancy, health issues, death etc. all smooth out the actual attrition rate over a period of time.
The other reality with the idea of an exodus from the military to civilian flying, is that in recent years that particular landscape has changed radically. In years past the military provided a significant resource for airlines and other commercial operators that simply doesn't exist anymore.
In the case of airlines, many are no longer looking for experience to fill their right seat vacancies. They have re-invented the role as a profit centre. In other words they want virtually no experience at all and a big cheque book. The position is transitioning from that of a job, to that of a customer funded training experience. This is currently an expanding media only restrained by the general malaise in the economy. That may in some way help explain the decline in the number of Air Force leavers. The truth there are far fewer places to go to.
The increase in statutory retirement age has to some extent helped mask the reality of what is happening throughout the industry.
Yet smaller operators who can't provide the time or resources to train up a low houred pilot (or even with routes which demand hand flown approaches rather than IFR stuff), still prefer the experience and organizational abilities of a military pilot. As an example, corporate operators often go to airports without handling agents and need the "can do" ability and attitude drummed into military personnel.
Lets not forget that there are other jobs besides being an airline pilot out there. QWIC/FWIT graduates are well placed in the defence industry for starters, your daily grind can be dressed up to fit most civilian jobs out there which demand "managerial experience, calm under pressure, working to deadlines, ability to work in a high tech environment, demonstrating an ability to learn" etc etc. We become stuck in a rut in the military, that's why we don't jump as readily as we should. The RDAF probably knows that.
The RAF has a 38yr old retirement point. This keeps our front lines stocked with younger guys and encourages people to search for jobs while they have more working years left to get into a full "second career". It also gives the RAF the option to keep those people on it wishes to at the 38yr point so any older people are usually of a higher quality. Well, that's the plan anyway.
A spot of Dansk only relevant stuff:
Ud over, du kun havde omkring 20 fyre på Skrydstrup, da jeg forlod, så hvad er RDAF basere deres holdning? Ingen F16 udskiftning eller langt færre end F35 piloter? Den sidste ting at tænke på er, at EU er et marked for alle militære piloter fra alle lande og med en tidligere pensionsalder, Storbritannien og Frankrig vil sandsynligvis blive udfylde en masse af disse slots. Hvis SAS er holdt op med at rekruttere, og det efterlader dig dårligt placeret. Tak for at vise viljen til at rejse derhen, hvor jobbene er tidligere i dit arbejdsliv til at have et godt argument for bedre vilkår og betingelser. Nig (!)