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losses largely result of 'poaching' by airlines

KAAF has trouble keeping its pilots

By JOHN JESSER, Defence

and Aviation Writer

The Chief of Air Staff, Air Mar . shal Ray Funncll, admitted yester day that it would be "very difficult" for the Royal Australian : Air Force to provide trained pilots

to keep pace with deliveries of new ' F/A-18 Hornet fighter aircraft.

He said thai RAAF pilots trained for the Hornet were partic ularly attractive to commercial air lines bccausc of their familiarity with the high-technology cockpit environment typical of the most modernjet aircraft.

Air fy^arshal Funncll was com menting on high pilot separation figures which arc largely the result of "poaching" by commercial air

lines.

So far this year 117 RAAF pilots have resigned and it is expected that the total for this statistical year could be as high as 125 or 130, compared with the 10-year average for separations of 47.

Air Marshal Funncll said a ca reer as an RAAF pilot was a very attractive proposition for young people. The annua) pay for a flight lieutenant, flight instructor in his mid-20s was $39,000.

However, when the pilot reached 30 and looked to further ing his career he saw that against strong competition he might reach a senior command position with pay of $60,000.

Compared with this a first offi cer with Qantas could be earning about $65,000 a year, a captain could earn over $75,000 and a sc-.

nior captain could be earning from;. $115,000 to $120,000.

"The solution is to offer a more

attractive future downstream, but. we cannot offer them the financial; incentive lo' stay," Air Marshal'.

Funncll said.

He said the return-of-scrvicc for' pilots had been increased from six'

Air Marshal Funncll

to eight years'and this would help

stem the rate of separations.

In addition:the number of non flying positions allocated to pilots was being reduced but there was a limit to what'CouId be done in this area because for some positions it was esscntial.to have flying experi

ence.

Air Marshal Funncll was speak ing at a mccfia briefing conducted by the Chief of the Defence Force, General Pet<fr Gration, on separa tion rales i{j* the Australian De

fence Force.

General Gration said overall separations in 1987-88 would be, at about 13 per cent, at the same level as or slightly higher than last year. This could be compared with the 10-year average of 11.1 pe/cent.

He said RAAF pilots .were the largest single componcnt(of the in crease in separations, but other fac tors had contributed.

"The increasing percentage of women in the services has influ

cnccd all the categories," he said. "Women historically have a higher separation rate than men. While women represented 8.4 per ccni of the ADF in 1986-87 they contrib uted 24 per cent of all the increases in separations.

"However, consistent with the increasing career opportunities for women, the trend in their separa tion rate is downwards."

Another category that had con tributed to the rise in separations was the increasing number of re servists on full-time duty who served for up to one year.

In addition, the increase in sepa rations had meant that a larger number of trainees were required. The wastage rate among trainees, while much the same as the histori cal level, had added to the increase in separations because of the larger number undergoing training.

General Gration said that while he believed the increase in separa tion rates was to some extent the product of changes in society, se nior defence commanders and the federal Government were very concerned about the situation and were attempting to find solutions.

"We are making considerable ef fort to find out what is causing the increased separations. Where we can identify an irritant that can and should be fixed, we fix it," he said.

"Contrary to belief in some quarters, dissatisfaction with con ditions of scrvicc is not one of the primary reasons for people leaving the services, although there is no doubt that is an underlying factor in many cases."

He said the climate was "very tough" at the moment for achiev ing increases in pay and allow ances. Government policy was to hold wages down and there was no evidence that the Opposition in government would act any differ ently.

Digitisation generously supported by
Questacon - The National Science and Technology Centre
Digitisation generously supported by

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