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Aviation Continuation Pay (ACP - The Bonus)

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I say we add two pages worth of bullets requirements to the OPR and mandatory semi annual colonoscopies after you turn 23. And quarterly after 30. That could help solve things.

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I know you guys are aircrew, and as aircrew, I'm fully aware that we bitch a lot.

But man, you guys REALLY bitch a lot.

I took the bonus. $155k/year is what I'd have to make on the outside to achieve the same take home pay. Is it the best job in the world? Probably not. But the airlines never appealed to me, and are full of their own pitfalls. I'm 35 years old and I make $155k/year. For a single guy, that's a lot of money. I'm fully aware a 365 has my name on it, at some point. That's fine, even more money to stash away (tax free).

The job isn't that bad. Some guys have it worse than others, sure. But at 20 years, those of us that stayed in get to retire and do what we really want to do with the rest of our lives. Not a bad deal if you ask me.

Figured I'd throw in an opinion that goes against the norm here. Bitch away...

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1 hour ago, Guardian said:

I say we add two pages worth of bullets requirements to the OPR and mandatory semi annual colonoscopies after you turn 23. And quarterly after 30. That could help solve things.

Shit, I was in my mid-forties by the time I retired.  What would your plan entail then--just leave the damn thing plugged in the whole time...?  :beer:

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If the tube fits

Holy fuckin hell, another eagle driver classic quote about colons.

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I think Big Blue could easily fix part of the pilot retention problem by getting rid of all 365s and BS 179s.  The problem isn't the pay, it's the deployments.  When I'm not downrange, what other job is going to pay me close to $100k to fly once or twice a week, occasionally click through some CBTs about lesbian trafficking, and work on a few OPRs?  However, taking me away from my family for a year to have Afghanis try to kill me daily in a Cessna Caravan, or for 6 months to make coffee for some General at the CAOC, is not worth any amount of cash you can throw at me.  I have no issue going to war with my Sq to help kill bad guys, but when you throw in the other bullshit deployments that we're all subject to, it makes me want to punch the second I'm eligible.  Fix the miscellaneous deployments and you'll fix the retention problem.

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Holy hell, another eagle driver classic quote about colons.

That's all you ever think about, huh Ram....colons. Ram ........colons. Hmmm. Ram colons.

And another assumption that I am an Eagle Driver......

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If the tube fits
Holy hell, another eagle driver classic quote about colons.That's all you ever think about, huh Ram....colons. Ram ........colons. Hmmm. Ram colons.

And another assumption that I am an Eagle Driver......

As eagle legend has it, if you say "ram colon" three times in a dark alleyway behind chipndales, he will appear.

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I say we add two pages worth of bullets requirements to the OPR and mandatory semi annual colonoscopies after you turn 23. And quarterly after 30. That could help solve things.

You mean those semi-annual colonoscopies aren't mandatory now? I have to have a serious conversation with my flight doc!

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I know you guys are aircrew, and as aircrew, I'm fully aware that we bitch a lot.

But man, you guys REALLY bitch a lot.

I took the bonus. $155k/year is what I'd have to make on the outside to achieve the same take home pay. Is it the best job in the world? Probably not. But the airlines never appealed to me, and are full of their own pitfalls. I'm 35 years old and I make $155k/year. For a single guy, that's a lot of money. I'm fully aware a 365 has my name on it, at some point. That's fine, even more money to stash away (tax free).

The job isn't that bad. Some guys have it worse than others, sure. But at 20 years, those of us that stayed in get to retire and do what we really want to do with the rest of our lives. Not a bad deal if you ask me.

Figured I'd throw in an opinion that goes against the norm here. Bitch away...

It ain't all about the money. The bonus concept is flawed in that the people who take the bonus are probably the ones who have no airline pilot aspirations and would stay whether there was a pilot bonus or not. You're right. We do make a lot of money. It's everything else that's chasing people away. Let's face it. You fly less and less after taking the bonus anyway. They offer a bonus to pilots to stay to fill command/staff billets, not keep experienced aircrew. Your crew dog hayday is between 0-2 and Jr. O-4.

Your view is common for a single dude with no kids. I'm at the point in my life where I want to get paid to sit at home 16-20+ days per month and when I do work, I just want to fly an airplane that's younger than me and after I land from a 3 or 4 day trip, I want to grab my little roller bag and be able to leave the job behind me for the next 4 or 5 days.

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1 hour ago, Gazmo said:

It ain't all about the money. The bonus concept is flawed in that the people who take the bonus are probably the ones who have no airline pilot aspirations and would stay whether there was a pilot bonus or not. You're right. We do make a lot of money. It's everything else that's chasing people away. Let's face it. You fly less and less after taking the bonus anyway. They offer a bonus to pilots to stay to fill command/staff billets, not keep experienced aircrew. Your crew dog hayday is between 0-2 and Jr. O-4.

Your view is common for a single dude with no kids. I'm at the point in my life where I want to get paid to sit at home 16-20+ days per month and when I do work, I just want to fly an airplane that's younger than me and after I land from a 3 or 4 day trip, I want to grab my little roller bag and be able to leave the job behind me for the next 4 or 5 days.

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I can understand your point of view. I've met several pilots in my career that just like flying, whatever kind of flying it is. For me, the fun is in actually doing something with the airplane. Point A to Point B stuff is just kind of a drag, personally.

Best of luck to all of you who pull chocks and separate. Really, I think the pilot shortage is a win/win for both groups -- those that stay in and those that decide to leave.

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March ACP numbers were posted.  Slight up tick to 37% overall from 35% in February.  Last year, about 69% of the bonus takers were early signers.  If that trend holds true, then this year's take rate will end up around 42%. 

I'm curious what the air staff target is, and what the "sky is falling" number is. 

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1 hour ago, gearpig said:

Surely you understand that you're a single guy whose chief concern is weighing the amount of paycheck dollars against the ability to fly something other than A to B.

That is not even close to the calculus that most of the people who ultimately decide to leave the AF are having to work through in their decision. Apparently, the majority of people have determined that AADs, PME, AFPC, AEFs, 365s, 179s, OPRs, PRFs, CBTs, DTS, MilPDS, vMPF, PPTs, PDFs, DOCs, XLSs, ETCs isn't worth the current amount of incentive pay or yankin' and bankin'.

Point taken. I recognize a military career can be rough on the family. To be fair though, you can't blame the Air Force for that. Nature of the business... 

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Um, the amount of stupidity in the air force has nothing to do with it being the "Nature of the business." 

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34 minutes ago, NKAWTG said:

March ACP numbers were posted.  Slight up tick to 37% overall from 35% in February.  Last year, about 69% of the bonus takers were early signers.  If that trend holds true, then this year's take rate will end up around 42%. 

I'm curious what the air staff target is, and what the "sky is falling" number is. 

65% is the number I've seen used twice in the past ~5 years.   The most recent example was last week when CSAF asked congress for a bigger bonus in light of a 55% retention rate last year.  

As for "sky is falling:" we're there and the bosses know it.  That's why they're asking for a bigger bonus.  

Here's the picture I believe they're seeing:  Less than 65% retention at mid career, combined with an increase in end strength means you have to promote to O-5 at elevated rates.  As shown earlier, >80% of the force is making O-5 already (itself a big increase in promotion rates from only a few years ago... it used to be ~2/3 made the cut).  Airline hiring is still only beginning to hit its stride, which means retention is more likely to decrease than increase.  If retention rates drop to 42% as predicted above, O-5 will approach a 90% promotion rate (O-5 is the new O-4?).  It's not unreasonable to expect O-6 at 75% by the time today's O-4's are ready.  At that point, we may also see the O-6 board move prior to the 20 year retirement decision.  

Airline pay and stability have increased significantly since the original bonus, yet $35K merely corrects for inflation.  My guess is CSAF wanted more but was told by legislative affairs it wouldn't happen... hence the internal messaging a few months ago that "we can't compete on pay."  He likely thinks he can get the inflation bump this year, but won't be able to ask for more until the problem gets more visible.  

Watch for the messaging to say they lack competition within the promotion system.  That's what the Army did during OIF when they had to stop worrying about who they promoted in the face of service growth and declining retention.  They had a host of new retention bonuses within a few months.  We'll be there in a few years.  

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6 hours ago, ILoveScotch said:

I I think the pilot shortage is a win/win for both groups...

Do you honestly believe there is a pilot shortage?

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On 3/4/2016 at 2:55 PM, ThreeHoler said:

Here is what y'all are missing: they finally admitted the target is retaining 65% of uncommitted pilots. They don't need all of you to take $35K. They don't want all of you to take $35K. They want the 10% they didn't get last year and the % they won't get this year.

This.

Does anyone really think that the inflation-correcting $35k/year bonus will boost retention from the 45% or so this year to their target 65%?  I have my doubts.  We'll just be throwing more money at those who were going to stay in anyway.  Extra money for the future ThreeHolers of the world- a fantastic deal for those folks.

We all know that the QoL/"work rules" aren't going to improve, which is what's really necessary to fix this retention problem.  $35k/year just isn't enough to sway a large number of people.  Perhaps they should be looking to correct flight pay for inflation as well.  $650/month in 1999 corrects to about $925.  $840 corrects to about $1200.

Or, more likely, we'll just see senior management institute Stop Loss.  

 

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6 hours ago, AlifBaa said:

65% is the number I've seen used twice in the past ~5 years.   The most recent example was last week when CSAF asked congress for a bigger bonus in light of a 55% retention rate last year.  

I'm not a personnelist, but it's pretty painfully obvious to me that the overall take rate number is only useful as a very broad indicator of the net effects of airline hiring and/or pilots' frustrations with Air Force/congressional policies. It's useless as an overall gauge of Air Force pilot manning/health, because there is so much variation between pilot communities, and between year groups within those communities. 

What really matters is various Air Force specialties' manning, and the extent to which retaining pilots reaching bonus eligibility can impact overall AFSC health. The outlook isn't good overall, but it's especially poor for certain communities. I'll use the RPA community as an example, but the principle works the same for all rated AFSCs:

The RPA community is hurting for manning already, and the Air Force is seeking to expand it further. It seems plausible that the Air Force really needs 100% of the bonus-eligible RPA drivers to stay in this year, so that the force can be grown while executing global operations. Given the current state of manning and projected growth, I'm guessing the RPA community might need a 100% take rate for several years, if it is to have a hope of getting healthy manning-wise. That ain't gonna happen, though. 

The only way to grow the community, then, will be through accessions--taking a lot more folks from commissioning sources and making them 18Xs--which involves a huge degree of short-term pain, as folks are taken off the line to train the newbies, and furthermore has the potential of creating an opposite problem down the road (a glut of 2016 year group 18Xers, all competing for very limited school/staff/command opportunities). 

For the current group of bonus-eligible RPA pilots, the Air Force didn't make enough folks from their commissioning year groups RPA pilots, and the Air Force is highly unlikely to retain enough via the bonus to get/keep the RPA community healthy. I don't know of any other plans to provide further monetary incentives for RPA pilots, to encourage them to become RPA drivers and/or retain those who already are 11Us/18Xers. I know of no plan to promote RPA drivers at higher rates, in order to provide a professional incentive to serve as an RPA pilot. Airline hiring is making it abundantly clear that taking more pilots out of manned cockpits is not going to be a good strategy. 

It strikes me that, if the Air Force wants to get the RPA community healthy (and I would say this goes for most pilot communities), the Air Force will need to substantially increase

- (1) monthly incentive pays--to encourage folks to enter the career field and hence buttress squadron operations,

- (2) ACP bonuses--to encourage folks to stay in the career field and hence buttress staff and command, and

- (3) consider another bonus offering at the 20-year, retirement-eligibility point--to ensure we eventually have senior leaders and senior O-5/O-6 staffers who are deeply familiar with RPAs. Given how long ago we were able to see this train wreck coming, I can't comprehend why options 1 & 2 weren't pursued long ago. These would seem to be the easiest--it would simply be a matter of updating incentive pays & bonuses to match current market conditions. I think Big Blue should consider Option 3, particularly for manned aircraft pilots, since the combination of airline hiring (airlines pay better) and military retirement (staying past 20 means effectively working for "half pay") will make it awfully hard to keep talent on AD. 

Of course, it would help if the president/congress provided leadership and funding, Air Force leaders chose not to engage in witch hunts, and officers were selected based on performance, rather than demographic diversity. 

TT

 

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12 hours ago, NKAWTG said:

March ACP numbers were posted.  Slight up tick to 37% overall from 35% in February.  Last year, about 69% of the bonus takers were early signers.  If that trend holds true, then this year's take rate will end up around 42%. 

I'm curious what the air staff target is, and what the "sky is falling" number is. 

Sky is not falling...between rapid influx of 18x and new enlisted RPA program, things will settle in the next few years.  No panic in the P-gon.

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18 minutes ago, General Chang said:

Sky is not falling...between rapid influx of 18x and new enlisted RPA program, things will settle in the next few years.  No panic in the P-gon.

And this, folks, is how we get the leaders we do in the Air Force:

- Focus on system inputs (ramp up manned pilot/18x/enlisted pilot production--see above)

- Ignore losses of experienced individuals, and thus fail adequately retain folks at key career inflection points (e.g., end of SUPT commitment, retirement eligibility at 20 yrs) . . . except for those who fit the right demographics. Ensure they're promoted at higher rates, in order to encourage them to stay in

- Promote those who bother to stay in past their min commitments/beyond 20 yr retirement eligibility (retention of adequate numbers of quality individuals be damned)

- Further isolate high-potential officers by sending them off to endless strings of schools and staff jobs

- Even further isolate senior leaders by giving them staffs comprised of those who--like the senior leaders--were among the few who bothered to stay on AD (and hence have little in common with the masses of folks serving under them, who are mostly waiting to finally reach the ends of their respective ADSC commitments) 

The Five-Sided Puzzle Palace must be an awesome echo chamber for GC and his buddies. 

TT

 

 

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The sky is falling. When there are talks about introducing a pilot bonus for DSG ANG/Reservists because people are walking away before their 2o years, you know it's bad. As the AF looses both airframes and people, they will continue to tap more and more into the ARC. I've heard a rumor they are kicking around a 1:4 dwell for ARC deployments. For guys in the 11-15 yr range who don't have a whole lot of AD time for a substantial retirement check at 6o years old, it'll be an easy decision to leave if they're well off at their civilian company. The ARC is not gonna swallow being deployed 100+ days a year without kicking and screaming.

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I I think the pilot shortage is a win/win for both groups...

Do you honestly believe there is a pilot shortage?

In the AF? No. We'll likely lose experiance, but that'll be a leadership shortage, not a pilot shortage.

In the airlines? It's what media and CSAF is saying. Sure, I guess.

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Sky is not falling...between rapid influx of 18x and new enlisted RPA program, things will settle in the next few years.  No panic in the P-gon.

Because doubled production of 18X pilots is going to solve the manning problem with regards to all your disenfranchised CGOs/FGOs who are one more straw from punching?

Chang, you know pilot manning is screwed when pilots who "would never take an airline job" are quietly taking time off to get their ATPs "just in case." I know a lot of people that fall into that category.

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Yay! Changs back!

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Sky is not falling...between rapid influx of 18x and new enlisted RPA program, things will settle in the next few years.  No panic in the P-gon.
Chang, you know pilot manning is screwed when pilots who "would never take an airline job" are quietly taking time off to get their ATPs "just in case." I know a lot of people that fall into that category.

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To be fair, this likely has more to do with the recent change in rules governing ATP acquisition than anything else...

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