Author Topic: RCAF aircrew shortage  (Read 10595 times)

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Offline Eagle Eye View

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RCAF aircrew shortage
« on: September 18, 2018, 09:33:30 »
Link to article,

https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/air-force-pilots-shot-1.4827862

The Royal Canadian Air Force is contending with a shortage of around 275 pilots and needs more mechanics, sensor operators and other trained personnel as well in the face of increasing demands to conduct and support domestic and international missions.
The Air Force says it is working to address the deficiencies and that they have not negatively impacted operations.
Still, officials acknowledge the situation has added pressure on Canada's flying corps and will represent a real challenge for the foreseeable future.
"Right now we're doing everything we can to make sure we recruit, train and retain enough personnel to do our current mission," said Brig.-Gen. Eric Kenny, director general of air readiness.
"In the next 20 years, it's going to be a challenge to grow the force at the rate that we would like."

The shortfall in pilots and mechanics was referenced in an internal report recently published by the Department of National Defence, which also flagged underspending on maintenance for bases and other infrastructure, as well as reductions in annual flying times thanks to Conservative-era budget cuts.
Some of those issues have since started to be addressed by the Liberals through their new defence policy, but the personnel shortage remains an area of critical concern given the need for pilots and others to fly and maintain the military's various aircraft fleets at home and abroad.
Those include the planes and helicopters involved in Canada's military missions in Iraq, Latvia, Mali, and Ukraine; domestic search-and-rescue aircraft; and the CF-18 fighter jets deployed in Romania and guarding against a foreign attack on North America.

The Air Force is authorized to have 1,580 pilots, but Kenny said in an interview that the Air Force is short by around 17 per cent, or about 275 pilots. It is facing similar deficiencies when it comes to navigators and sensor operators who work onboard different types of aircraft as well as mechanics, he added.
'It's definitely a challenge'
Kenny also acknowledged the threat of burnout as service members are forced to pick up the slack left by unfilled positions, and the added challenge in the coming years as the Air Force receives new drones, fighter jets and other aircraft — which will require even more people to fly and maintain.
Efforts have been made to address the shortfalls, including more focus on retaining service members with tax breaks, additional support and services for family members to ease military life, and plans to free up experienced personnel by assigning administrative staff to do day-to-day tasks.
Several initiatives have also been introduced to speed up recruitment and training and attract older pilots back into the Forces, which has borne some fruit, while the military looks at changing the length of time pilots and others are required to serve before they can leave.
But the current training system means the Air Force can only produce 115 new pilots each year, which commanders have said is insufficient to meet its needs given the number that have been leaving for commercial opportunities in recent years.

The Department of National Defence is drawing up plans for a new system that officials hope will be in place by 2021 and include the ability to expand or shrink the number of trainees in any year given the Air Force's needs.
Kenny said the shortfalls will remain a challenge since the current system will remain in place for several more years — and because it takes four and eight years to train a pilot from scratch.
"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," he said. "But I'm not going to lie: It's definitely a challenge."

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Offline standingdown

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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2018, 13:54:20 »
Time to open up a trial run for NCM Pilots? I guess it's the training system that's the problem though...



« Last Edit: September 18, 2018, 13:59:41 by Spectrum »

Offline Eye In The Sky

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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2018, 14:19:57 »
Or, retention bonuses?  The USAF is implementing ones for aircrew and maintainers.
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Offline Eagle Eye View

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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2018, 14:23:56 »
Imo cutting the excess of secondary duties and the ever increasing amount of dog and pony show tasking would be a good start.
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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2018, 14:27:14 »
An even better idea, EITS.

I know two dudes ("geek" type + SOF guy) in the US military that both re-upped for nice bonuses.

So...is anyone listening?

Offline CBH99

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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2018, 14:50:33 »
Imo cutting the excess of secondary duties and the ever increasing amount of dog and pony show tasking would be a good start.


Dog & pony show taskings?   Genuinely curious what your referring to? 

**No biased intended...I have 0 experience in this area at all, just the general idea of what various types of planes do.  Are you meaning like airshows & such?
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Offline Eagle Eye View

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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2018, 15:06:29 »
I was referring to the outside work weekend tasking, show the uniform sort of thing. I can only speak from my experience, but I've noticed a significant increase in those sort of tasking and secondary duties. For example just to name one; originally what had started as a simple RCAF run to counter-act the Army run, now has grown into a significant event that not only draws all the resources available on the Wing, but requires up to a year a continuous committee meetings to prep it.

Adding to this, the shortage of qualified aircrews is stretched so far that we seeing more members wearing multiple hats at the same time, without being properly trained nor compensated for it.

Again this is one example, but something is clearly wrong when we have aircrews on their BB dealing with non-mission related issues while flying.

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Offline Eye In The Sky

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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2018, 15:19:50 »
The butter on the bread is thin in some units for sure.  At this time, I have 2 positions I'm filling (both are separate, full time jobs), plus 1 Wing and 2 Sqn secondary duties.  They all compete against each other daily.  Going away is a "break", all I have to worry about then is flying the YFR allotted and picking restaurants.

I find that 'non-operational' things sometimes trump "operational" things;  tail wagging the dog.  Huge frustration the past few years...add that to it a next-to-impossible to complete *to do* list each day, and people will start to burn out.  Throw in op tempo and time away from your postal code...
Do I love my job?  No.

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Offline Dimsum

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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2018, 17:56:52 »
Certain Mess Exec positions having to be aircrew are great in theory, but then you end up with people who aren't three over half the time. 
Philip II of Macedon to Spartans (346 BC):  "You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city."

Reply:  "If."

Offline MarkOttawa

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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2018, 19:11:59 »
Tweet from Matthew Fisher:
https://twitter.com/mfisheroverseas/status/1042177394432454658

Quote
Matthew Fisher
‏ @mfisheroverseas

"Canadian air force short 275 pilots."
Accurate story. Why extreme attrition?Big reason is F-35 procurement fiasco.Waves of expensively trained pilots quit because of govt dithering on that.Their fury has been out there to be written about for several yrs...

Mark
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Offline Jokerniemi

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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2018, 21:27:29 »
Does this mean faster CT for aircrew trades ?  :nod:

Offline kratz

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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2018, 21:34:40 »
Does this mean faster CT for aircrew trades ?  :nod:

No.

The news article quoted above mentioned DND hopes to have systems in place for 2021.
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Online SupersonicMax

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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2018, 21:57:07 »
Tweet from Matthew Fisher:
https://twitter.com/mfisheroverseas/status/1042177394432454658

Mark
Ottawa

There are so many reasons why people leave...  if only we only have a single reason to consider going someplace else..

Offline MJP

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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2018, 22:00:35 »
There are so many reasons why people leave...  if only we only have a single reason to consider going someplace else..

I agree, and tend to dislike the boiling down of complex issues like this into one or two issues.  There are a number of factors to consider and not all of them have the same degree of effect nor are all of them purely CAF centric issues.  We just happen to get airtime on the news better than mining companies struggling to find people to work in remote spots for an example. 

EITS, SSM and other RCAF dudes & Dudettes,

Interested to hear some of your ideas on the issues and potential solution(s). 

I am having a good chuckle at the reddit thread https://www.reddit.com/r/CanadianForces/comments/9guq8w/canadian_air_force_short_275_pilots_as_attrition/ on the same issue.  Most of the comments are naive at best but there are some decent nuggets, including some that have popped up here by some very smart regular posters.
« Last Edit: September 18, 2018, 22:25:33 by MJP »
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Offline dapaterson

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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2018, 22:23:33 »
The CAF's attrition rate is lower than our allies.  Take out pre-DP1 training failures; retirements at CRA; and retirements with an immediate annuity and you're left with... well, not a lot of room for "retention".

In fact, I'd argue we need (a) higher attrition; (b) greater selectivity throughout the promotion pyramid; (c) streamlined training; and (d) reduced reliance on sponsored education plans for entry.  Taken together, we could simultaneously have a smaller requirement for BTL and higher attrition.

That the RCAF can only train 115 pilots per year is an RCAF failure, not a CAF (writ large) problem.  That it in turn results in large backlogs on the BTL is the RCAF inflicting institutional damage on the CAF.  (And, at times, it seems to be an almost deliberate tactic by the RCAF - a constant pilot shortage means constant requirements to pay pilots more... hardly an incentive for the pilots running the RCAF to solve the problem).
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Offline Eye In The Sky

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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #15 on: September 18, 2018, 22:49:11 »
Assuming what you said is accurate, that is only the pilot mafia.  As the article notes, it is more than just pilots.

The Royal Canadian Air Force is contending with a shortage of around 275 pilots and needs more mechanics, sensor operators and other trained personnel as well in the face of increasing demands to conduct and support domestic and international missions.

Quote
The Air Force is authorized to have 1,580 pilots, but Kenny said in an interview that the Air Force is short by around 17 per cent, or about 275 pilots. It is facing similar deficiencies when it comes to navigators and sensor operators who work onboard different types of aircraft as well as mechanics, he added.

I know my trade is not at PML, and there is RUMINT about needing more of us in the near future to fill slots outside the LRP and MH worlds.  Supply (TE output) and Demand (operational sqn's) isn't matched, and solving that issue will require funding. 

Quote
The Air Force says it is working to address the deficiencies and that they have not negatively impacted operations.

This suggests that the serviceable flyers, maintainers and support are busier than they should be. 

Quote
"Right now we're doing everything we can to make sure we recruit, train and retain enough personnel to do our current mission," said Brig.-Gen. Eric Kenny, director general of air readiness.

The retain piece is one that could be improved thru better career management practices...

Quote
The shortfall in pilots and mechanics was referenced in an internal report recently published by the Department of National Defence, which also flagged underspending on maintenance for bases and other infrastructure, as well as reductions in annual flying times thanks to Conservative-era budget cuts.

This is the type of *reporting* that annoys me.  The Liberals have been at the helm now for approaching 3 years...when will things stop being 'Harpers fault!'.

I can't speak for others, but the shortages in things I notice, like basic flying gear such as flight suits, gloves, rescue knives...have cropped up in the past 1-2 years. 


Quote
Some of those issues have since started to be addressed by the Liberals through their new defence policy...

 ::)

Quote
Several initiatives have also been introduced to speed up recruitment and training and attract older pilots back into the Forces, which has borne some fruit, while the military looks at changing the length of time pilots and others are required to serve before they can leave.

SO, if the problem is not limited to pilots, but all aircrew, flightcrew, and maintainers...why only speak to and/or address the pilot issue?  (IIRC, BGen Kenny was 4 Wg Comd...fighter guy)
« Last Edit: September 18, 2018, 22:54:07 by Eye In The Sky »
Do I love my job?  No.

But does it afford me the ability to go on lavish vacations and buy anything I want?  Also no.

Offline dapaterson

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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #16 on: September 18, 2018, 23:21:24 »
Why only speak to pilots?  Because it's the only one I know well enough to discuss.  But training for aircrew is all under the RCAF.  If we don't train enough Air Coffee Service Officers, that's an RCAF issue - and the responsibility falls to Comd, RCAF.  If the air tech schools under the command of Comd RCAF can't meet demand, again, that's Comd RCAF to address.
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Offline Eye In The Sky

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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #17 on: September 18, 2018, 23:26:57 »
Why only speak to pilots?  Because it's the only one I know well enough to discuss.  But training for aircrew is all under the RCAF.  If we don't train enough Air Coffee Service Officers, that's an RCAF issue - and the responsibility falls to Comd, RCAF.  If the air tech schools under the command of Comd RCAF can't meet demand, again, that's Comd RCAF to address.

All true.  I have a feeling the Div Commanders are addressing the concerns.  There are initiatives under way now to "do what can be done" until the new program (FAcT) comes online.  I don't know enough about the nuts and bolts of FAcT (Future Aircrew Training) to say anything other than the name at this point, and my focus is directed towards the post-TE *stuff* anyways - this is more for the intial TE folks from my view of the world.

Solutions will include funding, of course, and efficiencies.

Future Aircrew Training Program (PSPC website)

Oh. I should clarify...when I said this...

SO, if the problem is not limited to pilots, but all aircrew, flightcrew, and maintainers...why only speak to and/or address the pilot issue?  (IIRC, BGen Kenny was 4 Wg Comd...fighter guy)

It was directed towards BGen Kennys' interview comments, not your post.  He's a fighter guy...sometimes they forget there are other Commissioned and NCM aircrew.   :whistle:  Maybe all Pilots should start off on Aurora's.  They don't even start the engines in our fleet.  The only way a 140 will move if it only has pilots on it...is with a tow crew.   ;D
« Last Edit: September 18, 2018, 23:49:47 by Eye In The Sky »
Do I love my job?  No.

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Offline Quirky

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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #18 on: September 19, 2018, 00:34:45 »
Would be interesting to see statistics on what fleets retain more pilots that others, saying the RCAF is short 200 pilots is rather vague. I know first hand that there isnt much interest in Moose Jaw for pilots to transition to fighters. You go through all that time training only to fly 80s era obsolete jets in Cold Lake or Bagotville for 10-15 years. Seems like the most popular route now is multi engine then a transition into the airlines after enough hours. The industry will be needing thousands of pilots in the coming years, with opportunities to live in a city and be home on a set schedule.

Being around aircrew for over a decade and seeing all the side-show bullcrap they go through, which has nothing to do with flying, I wouldn’t want to be a pilot in the RCAF either.

Offline Ditch

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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #19 on: September 19, 2018, 01:32:35 »
and be home on a set schedule.
Misnomer - I’ve been a CF pilot for 14 years and guarantee I have a better home life and schedule than most airline pilots.   The big pest drawback of me going to Big Red anytime soon is the huge pay cut ($125k to $40k) and the horrible home life.   
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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #20 on: September 19, 2018, 09:22:25 »
From what I can see, the attrition rate of pilots in the MH Fleet is not excessively high. We are short pilots, mostly because of training system bottlenecks- mostly at the OTU.

However, we are REALLY short of ACSOs and AESOps. Production of these two trades has nearly collapsed; it is a phsyically demanding job and we break them (sometimes permanently) all too frequently and fixing these problems doesn't get the heat and light it should at HHQs. The few qualified MH ACSO/AESOps that we have left are being literally run into the ground.

A larger CF problem is that we are addicted to staff jobs and massive, HQ bloat. Trim some of that back, and there would not not be same pull to get people off the flight line and into desk jobs. That won't solve the whole problem, but as someone mentioned upthread, there is no silver bullet for the aircew issue.

Offline dapaterson

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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #21 on: September 19, 2018, 09:38:05 »
A larger CF problem is that we are addicted to staff jobs and massive, HQ bloat. Trim some of that back, and there would not not be same pull to get people off the flight line and into desk jobs. That won't solve the whole problem, but as someone mentioned upthread, there is no silver bullet for the aircew issue.

This x1000.


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Offline SeaKingTacco

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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #22 on: September 19, 2018, 09:49:14 »
The Australians have an interesting program where higher ranking officers can agree to revert in rank, but be pay protected, in exchange for "just" being a line pilot at a working rank (Flt Lt/Sqn Ldr).
 
not sure if that would work for us...

Offline Dolphin_Hunter

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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #23 on: September 19, 2018, 10:08:53 »
The few qualified MH ACSO/AESOps that we have left are being literally run into the ground.

This is our issue in the LRP fleet as well.   

If we could pull back a few AES Ops from 402 it'd make a world of difference.   We should have 5 ASO instructors at 404 (for 4 students), we have 2 instructors and 6 students.  Doesn't sound that bad, 2 instructors for 6 kids, but throw in staff events (which require 2 bodies), back-filling for other Sqns, exercises, deployments, and secondary duties, and you'll quickly see why our folks are burning out.   
 
Flying is almost an inconvenience now, there's so much other work to do and flying just seems to get in the way.  Which sucks, because what we do is fun!   

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Re: RCAF aircrew shortage
« Reply #24 on: September 19, 2018, 11:36:17 »
It probably doesn't help that they have (or at least had) ACSO and AES Op at places like CFEWC doing ground tours...