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Saturday, December 10, 2016

The shortage of military pilots in the United States associated with the fall in oil prices


The United States was faced with an acute shortage of pilots both in military and civil aviation. The reason was a number of market mechanisms, including the fall in oil prices and stricter requirements for pilots, dictated by reasons of some crashes. One way out – the development of automation.

It became known yesterday that the new artificial intelligence ALPHA (developed by the company Psibernetix Inc) was able to defeat a professional expert in the simulation of air combat – Colonel US air force retired Gina Lee. According to the impressions of Colonel, ALPHA seemed to have anticipated his intentions, which, coupled with the immediate reaction ensured the victory of the computer. Similarly ended the bout ALPHA with other specialists, even in cases where speed, precision shots, and other characteristics of a computer controlled plane decreased. In the future, this computer will be able to participate in actual combat, controlling the drones, coordinating the fighters and hoping the enemy’s strategy.

“In America, to which Bush may come, shake it, with it, the pilots will fall”

Bet on scientific and technological progress in this sense is extremely urgent for the Pentagon: robots are needed especially exactly where not enough people. In may the American and world media spread the news that does not fit with the image of the United States as a great aviation power, and of the country, where in 1903 he rose into the air, the first airplane in the world. According to CNN, currently in the armed forces of the United States there is a shortage of more than 700 pilots – 511 fighter jets and 200 operators of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). However, given the fact that drones are used in military and special operations increasingly (starting with 2006, the frequency of the use of drones has increased in 5 times), the BBC intend to additionally attract at least 300 drone operators, bringing the volume of the shortage of flight personnel in the armed forces up to 1,000 people. And this despite the fact that the US air force are preparing more UAV pilots than conventional pilots.

What the fighter pilots and pilots of UAVs are currently more in demand by the Pentagon confirms General Herbert Carlisle. However, the replenishment of the number of these professionals is not as fast as they would like American military. One of the reasons is the “attraction” of civil aviation. Falling fuel prices and the related increase of intensity of air traffic has meant that airlines began actively to recruit military pilots in the cockpit of civil aircraft.

Carlisle recognizes that the air force can’t compete with the salaries and the freer lifestyle that offer former military pilots of the airline. However, according to him, moral incentives for the combat pilots so much more than their civilian colleagues. As for drone operators, the situation is even more difficult. The Pentagon contractors type General Atomics UAV pilots offer pretty high salaries, but the specificity of work does not always provide a sufficient number of people wanting to take a seat in the bunker behind the controls of the drone.

As noted by General David Perkins, the operators of the UAV ground forces are experiencing in their work and more satisfied than their colleagues from the air force, due to the fact that are located in combat zones, where their flying machines: the trip including stay in other countries, changing impressions give momentum to their rather monotonous activity. The operators of drones, the air force life is much more boring – out of the house for the bus at the bunker, located on an air force base Creech in Nevada, and after work to home the same route. Because of this way of life, they often perceive themselves not pilots, and auxiliary technical personnel. In addition, career growth, the operators of the UAV is not as fast as the “classic” pilots.

The paradox of the situation is in the fact that the civilian side are also experiencing a shortage of captains. In the beginning of this decade, Aeroflot worked a few pilots from America with Russian passports. Many of them came to the U.S. with their parents at a very young age, where he graduated from aviation colleges or universities, but, as stated by the newspaper VIEW one of them: “In America, to which Bush may come, shake it, with it, the pilots will fall”. So they came to work in “Aeroflot” to get flight hours on the big ships, and then go back to the States already captains.

But now the US is the demand for pilots (at least for local airlines) is not less, maybe more, than in Russia. Before such problems was not, because flying regional airlines are usually replenished according to the following scheme: from the BBC came pilot, became the second pilot and then the ship’s captain on local airlines. The work was very poorly paid – the co-pilot received about 20 thousand dollars a year, and the captain – not more than 30-40 thousand, but at the helm of regional aircraft such as Embraer or Bombardier could gain experience and flight hours necessary for the transition to the “big” aviation operates aircraft type “Boeing” and “Airbus”. Respectively, increased the salary.

For example, captains of Boeing 777 or Boeing-78″, deletevalue 900 hours per year (Federal aviation administration – FAA allows pilots to linear naratiwat to 1000 hours per year, but few of the pilots is committed to working so much), get over this period of time 264 thousands of dollars, not counting the different kinds of bonuses in the form of corporate tickets and additional charges for international flights in the form of 2.8 per dollar for every flight hour.

This system worked well for several decades, providing a continuous inflow of pilots into the regional aircraft, which was for them like internship for a graduate of the medical school. On the copilot seat of a small but modern airliner you can sit down with the minimum required 250 hours of flight time and “grow” to “large” aircraft. But the disaster on local airlines, due to including lack of training of pilots (as, for example, the fall Dash-8-400 Colgan Air company in Buffalo, new York) broke the system.

In 2013, FAA has significantly tightened the conditions of employment of pilots at American airlines engaged in passenger or freight transportation. 250 hours of total flying and commercial pilot’s licenses were not sufficient – now you need 1500 hours and license of line pilots. Thus, to grow to the captain, was required to descend more than 1000 hours as co-pilot. Most newly minted commercial pilots have no more 250-300 flight hours.

Another difficulty lies in the fact that in the US the minimum age for obtaining a license line pilot is 23 years and the minimum total flight time – 1500 hours (1000 if you have higher aviation education). There are, however, exceptions. The co-pilot’s seat unable to put the former military pilot without the aforementioned license with 750 hours of flight time (one of the incentives for pilots to move into civil aviation), 21-year-old pilot with 1500 hours or College graduate with 1,250 flying hours, if he got any aviation specialty. The latter, of course, is possible only in case if the College he graduated from is already quite Mature pilot, the majority of graduates of College aviation profile received from school, have no more than 300 flight hours.

Therefore, young drivers need to gain another 1200 hours, at an average cost of flight in the region of a hundred dollars makes it quite a daunting task, the General solution of which is estimated at 120 thousand dollars (and that’s not counting the fact that obtaining a commercial license costs about 15-20 thousand). The only way to get an instructor in any aviation school (in America they are almost the same as driving schools) and to fly there with the students, earning 25-30 dollars an hour, or even less, but after a few years it will be possible to gain the necessary hours “Cessna and twin-engine “Beechcraft”. However, many accumulated 400-500 hours and tired of living from hand to mouth, decide to do something else, and prospective graduates of the flight schools as well as colleges and universities, flight profile, looking at them, prefer not to communicate with the profession of pilot, which reduces the flight sets of students in educational institutions of the United States.

It turns out that the pilots of major airlines, sat down behind the wheel during the time of the Vietnam war, retire, and change them there.

However, the requirement of “in the right chair – with 1500 flying hours” expires this year, and that it retained its power, the FAA must make the relevant decision. Regional US airline intend to ensure that this requirement was not extended. On the other hand, its retention are the relatives and friends of those killed in the aforementioned accident Dash-8-400 Colgan Air in 2009, which was due to the gross errors of the captain and co-pilot (although formally they have flight hours was all right: the captain – 3379, and the second pilot – 2244).

All of the above processes in military and civil aviation the United States emphasize it, though, and shrunken, but still the dependence on the human factor, and in the critical node for control of the aircraft – the cockpit. This circumstance will become an additional stimulus for the further computerization of aircraft to, on the one hand, to further reduce this dependence, with another – to lower requirements to qualification, and, accordingly, the value of training people who will participate in the management of the winged machines.

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