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Shortage of Helicopter Pilots?

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Shortage of Helicopter Pilots?

Old 29th Jul 2008, 14:43
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Shortage of Helicopter Pilots?

Crippling shortage of helicopter pilots | News | News of the World

Wanted: 163 army heli pilots

By Ian Kirby

HARD-PRESSED British forces in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq may have to wait YEARS for extra helicoptersóbecause of a crippling shortage of PILOTS.
Shock Ministry of Defence figures reveal the Army Air Corps, RAF and Royal Navy are under strength in almost every area.

Even if our forces were supplied with desperately needed extra helicopters, there would be no one to fly them since they are ALREADY short of 163 trained aircrew.

An internal report shows the biggest shortages are among pilots and crews of our Apache, Chinook, Sea King and Merlin helicopter fleets, which carry out the bulk of the work in the two war zones.

The powerful Apache gunships are vital to the war effort in Afghanistan, supporting the Paras and other hard-pressed units fighting the Taliban.

Yet the MoD's own figures show the Army Air Corps only has 93 Apache aircrew out of the 134 it needs.

That's nearly A THIRD under strength.

Insiders blame delays in training crews for the Apaches, which have been in use for three years.

There are also sky-high shortages of around 10 per cent in aircrews for the RAF's Chinooks, which supply troops, as well as the ageing Sea King and Merlin helicopter fleets.

Tory defence spokesman Liam Fox called the shortages "appalling".

He said it was a damning indictment of the government, adding: "The pilots they have are being asked to carry out tasks for which they're neither funded nor equipped."

[email protected]

I know that the NoTW isn't the usual place to find "news", but are the numbers as bad as the aper makes out?
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Old 29th Jul 2008, 15:04
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Location: Liverpool based Geordie, so calm down, calm down kidda!!
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Do the forces still use reservist pilots? The AAC are scrapping their TA units. Could they offer part-time stuff where you are not just UK based? Apparently the RAF aircrew only ever stay in hotels according to Ppruners. I could volunteer for some 'VR' service....... What are the hotels like in Basra and 'Stan????
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Old 29th Jul 2008, 15:31
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If this is the case there would be a lot of AAC Officers eager to fill any gaps be it on exchange tours with the RN or RAF or retraining on Apache at the expense of their "careers".

I appreciate that Apache crews are in the system and that they will filter through in time and there will be no quick fix for this shortfall however the exchange business is much more achieveable. You have a bevvy of AAC Officers about to be dissapointed at the Sqn Command Board who will end up not even commanding an aircraft, never mind soldiers or a Squadron because of the paucity of Sqn Command slots (amplified more with the cut of 7 Regt AAC).

I am sure there would be many AAC Officers (admittedly Majors) who would give their right eye to go flying again with the RN and RAF rather than stare down the barrel of an unfulfilling Staff job. Think what benefits that these people could offer after flying in another Service; JHC would certainly be better for it.

If ever there is a time for self determination for AAC Officers to choose their own path in life rather than the inflxible AAC career route and solve a Defence problem, it is now.

Me first!

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Old 29th Jul 2008, 17:29
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I'm not sure where the figure of 134 Apache pilots comes from

The maths don't add up, or do they?

Plan A. Each Attack Squadron manned with 24 Apache pilots (though the most that any one Squadron had was 19). So 24 pilots and 6 Squadrons equals 144. Add the RHQ element (times 2) that must be at least 3 each Regiment adds up to 150 pilots, then the training Squadron at Middle Wallop, IIRC should be 24 QHIs, so 174 Apache drivers if we were to be fully manned.

Plan B. Each Squadron should now be 20 pilots, 6 Squadrons equals 120 pilots, so that leaves 14 pilots/QHIs for AH Training at Wallop.

The Corps are failing in their attempt to retain AH pilots. In 2006 9 Regt had 36 LCR Apache pilots, 3 Regt had a dozen or so as did AH Training. So two years later we're up to 93. At this rate we'll never fill the manning plot.
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Old 29th Jul 2008, 17:59
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What I really want is some long term truth. I have looked at all 3 services and it is a basic question of life style. What life do you want?

I for one am so fed-up with my lot but there is little to do about it bar pull the plug - an option I am seriously considering.

What are the pros and cons of each service - from 'them that knows'? If we all had that information, we might make some better arguments or decisions!!

Jurnos spouting is heartening but I have never seen 'them that does' react! FRI - more Helis - life work balance, I have no idea what will make it better.

Answers on a post please??????
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Old 29th Jul 2008, 18:15
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", as well as the ageing Sea King and Merlin helicopter fleets."

I know the good old SeaKing is knocking on a bit but the Merlin is a mere youth in brit mil terms!
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Old 29th Jul 2008, 18:29
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Is it just a shortage of helo pilots or is it much deeper than that? What about FJ and Multis?
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Old 30th Jul 2008, 00:11
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In my humble opinion, and it is humble and my own, the Army Air Corps do absolutely nothing to retain pilots and such is the demand for civvie pilots at the moment (7 year low) why should pilots remain in an environment where the get to see their families every once in a while. I left/was pushed some years ago and looking back on it, it was the best thing i could have done. Having only served 12 years, 5 as a pilot and after some small indiscretions on my behalf had transference, lynx and definately QHI blocked as career routes. Now have a very stable flying job, am an FI on 6 types and have 8 on my licence. Pay is alot more than i could have hoped for and i dont get shot at. Bloody green grass over here.
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Old 30th Jul 2008, 03:45
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And this is my humble opinion,

Something had better be done soon otherwise JHC is going to have a whole load of young guys tearing around the sky with very little depth or experience left in the squadrons. I could not believe my ears when I heard a civil servant matter of factly remark that the credit crunch, oil prices and subsequent pinch on the airline market would alleviate the mass exodus of service aircrew!

He obviously hasn't looked at the Flight Global website recently to see that (funny old thing) oil companies are now expanding their exploration activities and which (funny old thing) only helicopters can get to.

There is a shortage of rotary pilots across all Services - of course there is. Yes money does play a huge part in it - CHC/Bristows aircrew can now easily earn above the salary of a military pilot - and the old 6 weeks on 6 weeks off (or what ever the rosta) is certainly more stable than JHC units (and when you are home with a civilian employer - you are exactly that - home!). What I am finding is that it is the loved ones that are forcing their aircrew partners to leave because bottom line a divorce and custody battles are far more expensive (and painful) than any FRI. Currently the FRIs (for some!) and salaries are not providing the balance to those that regularly deploy into harms way - and we are no longer talking NI or the Balkans here.

The hierarchy and the Treasury can say what they want about not increasing public sector pay, but as always it will be market forces and there is a lot out there to either 'push' aircrew of the Forces out or 'pull' them into civvie street.

There are other factors apart from the obvious of pay and family. I am fortunate in that I fly one of JHC's most advanced aircraft - however, I do know that there are others that are litterally flogging a dead horse with their aircraft type and their morale is pretty low. I have witnessed crews (no names no pack drills - but we know the airframe) get really disappointed because they could not deliver what the guys wanted, and so were replaced by something else that could do their job for them. No wonder so many of those aircrew either leave or transfer to something that 'does what is advertised on the tin' and delivers something.

The last thing which I find amazing is that the whole agency and civilianisation of key organisations and desks has effectively eaten away at the forces morale from the inside. Whether it is the JPAC 'disineterested' operator or the Treasury that has absolutely no idea what the implications and consequences of its decisions when it doesn't fund aircraft and equipment.

Afghanistan and Iraq are a long way from the British public, especially in tight economic circumstances and a Govt that is struggling.

Family, Pay, Equipment and Leadership - not rocket science
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Old 30th Jul 2008, 07:14
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Cross Over

I am currently a WSOP and maybe looking for a career change. How do we go about crossing over to the AAC to become a pilot. Any hints and tips or contacts for me. Ta
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Old 30th Jul 2008, 08:33
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There cannot be a shortage

There cannot be a shortage of helo pilots/crew etc.
I PVRd and left about a year ago and nobody in the system was interested in retaining me. Spoke to others from FJ and Multis who have the same story.

What you need to realise is that the forces do not care about you, you are just a number. Nobody is responsible for retention, therefore nobody in the system is forced to retain you.

Initially I wasn't 100% convinced I was doing the right thin,g but nobody was interested when I PVRd so that just reinforced my feelings that nobody gave a flying fcuk about me.

I watch the news each day and see another serviceman killed in the Stan and think, why has he been forced to make such a sacrifice? Eventually the politicians will pull us out and we will have made no difference.

I have been left saddened by my time in the RAF and see that my personnal legacy was contributing to Iraq and Afghanistan. Niether of which I can be proud of.

Last edited by jingly; 30th Jul 2008 at 08:43.
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Old 30th Jul 2008, 08:51
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I don't miss it one bit i get paid better now and life is good....................The grass is greener.
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Old 30th Jul 2008, 08:54
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I agree.............there are jobs a plenty in civvie street!
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Old 30th Jul 2008, 10:13
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Funny that - After nearly 10 years I still miss life in green, wanted nothing more than to fly and teach on the 64 - but as soon as I hit 40 I was out on my ear IMHO the AAC need to introduce spec aircrew quicker than quick.
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Old 30th Jul 2008, 10:47
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Or maybe it could assimilate to the light blue and therefore remove the current age 40 and other career issues that seem to dog it's very existence.

This is not an attemp to turn this into another blue/green debate but just a humble thought on how to address some of the AAC issues
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Old 30th Jul 2008, 10:56
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Letsby, the Army have introduced a system called Versatile Engagement (VEng) which allows SNCOs to serve to age 55. The AAC are giving it to aircrew who have a specialisation (Spec aircrew) like QHIs, TPs, EWOs etc.
They are listening and trying (yes, I know, very trying....) and do care, albeit it doesn't feel like it sometimes. It is just that the wheels grind exceedingly slow, particularly when they are sunk up to their axles in Treasury mud.
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Old 30th Jul 2008, 15:04
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Meanwhile the guys are still leaving in droves.....
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Old 30th Jul 2008, 15:32
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Bollix to assimilation, why don't we keep our identities (has no bearing as we would still have to do the same jobs) and sack the multitude of high ranking pen pushers who tend to make our (certainly mine) lives so difficult. We could then put forward 'up-to-date' policies and ideas ourselves, let the one or 2 remaining rubber stamp it and we would have pots of money saved for our airframes.

Amazed that one force found 2 OF4s for the HQ just to stop them being outnumbered, even managed to get 2 more LSN (PIDS for the bureaucratic mongs)!!!

Who needs promotion on PA, bums on seats and not sprogs is what we need??????
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Old 30th Jul 2008, 21:44
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New broom sweeping in rather than out?

From what I hear the new man in charge at DAAvn is retaining, retaining retaining. "If they can be kept, they will be kept" is the new attitude, which marks a departure from the bloke before who was more "what? He wants to leave? Tell him to f*ck off and we didn't want him anyway."

I served 8 years, qualified Lynx and Gazelle, just promoted, and when I signed off I got neither a letter nor a phone call. Not even an interview. You'd think I'd got fired rather than gracefully left to pursue pastures new...Mind boggling stuff.

Does this mean they may bring back the FRI?
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Old 30th Jul 2008, 23:18
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Agree that the new man in DAAvn is trying his hardest to put out fires that the previous fcukwit started. Itís a slow and uphill struggle though. Itís going to be hard to replace the experience that vanished over the past few years and cannot be done 'just like that'. As gnd suggested, the treasury canít quantify 'experience' and just tot up the numbers. As it happens, the numbers are low and only slightly getting better. Those numbers are new blokes with limited experience. A sure fire recipe for a smoldering hole in the ground. Op experience on these chaps may be seen as a bonus but its quite a specific experience for short periods of time but the non op time gives them no rounded flying time.

We (the AAC) are feeling the results from policy set in place a few years ago. We almost exclusively recruited Direct Entry AAC officers to fill the Apache slots. Unfortunately we neglected the peripheries. Those DE AAC officers are now leaving in their droves due to lack of flying, pants jobs and a lack of command potential. Traditionally, the gaps would be filled with 'cheap labour' NCO pilots. Unfortunately, we either released a huge number of them (refusal of the previous DAAvn to sanction extension of service) or got them to fill SO3 jobs due to the lack of suitably experienced and qualified Captains. They too then banged out to 10 Regt AAC (Air Amb/Police) due to being fecked over on the career front.

I wish the new DAAvn all the luck in the world as he has his work cut out for him. Retention of experience is always going to be a tough nut to crack. Especially when you donít have huge bags of money to throw at the issue.

For those that wish to stay, itís a buyerís market. I'm sure you could ask for the world and almost get it in this climate. That in itself is a scary thought.
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