WASHINGTON - U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that will allow the Air Force to bring back to active duty as many as 1,000 retired pilots to address a pilot shortage.
A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Gary Ross, said the Air Force is short about 1,500 pilots.
“The pilot supply shortage is a national-level challenge that could have adverse effects on all aspects of both the government and commercial aviation sectors for years to come,” Ross said.
25-pilot cap removed
Under current law, the Air Force is limited to recalling 25 pilots. Trump’s order, which amends a post-9/11 emergency declaration, removes that cap for the Air Force, as well as other branches of the military.
Ross said the secretary of Defense is expected to allow the secretary of the Air Force to recall up to 1,000 retired pilots for up to three years.
The Air Force has struggled for years to retain pilots, who can often get better paying jobs flying commercial airlines. It has boosted pay and incentives to its pilots and has been working with airlines to come up with solutions to the shortage.
The Air Force has been at the forefront of the U.S. battle against the Islamic State, flying many of the sorties in Iraq and Syria.