Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Air Force Laments Rash of Pilots Flying the Coop

The air force keeps losing pilots to higher-paying airline jobs. FACH commander Ricardo Ortega said 17 pilots quit in 2007 and 12 more in the first two months of this year. At the same time, FACH adds about 22 pilots a year, to maintain a force of about 400 aviators. The problem has gotten worse in recent years, as commercial aviation booms in Latin America. Like in other countries, the economics favor airlines. A Chilean F-16 pilot makes roughly $1,800 a month, but could earn a starting salary of $4,000 a month flying for Chile's LAN Airlines. Ortega has pleaded for higher pilot pay, but there's been no response from the government. LAN is the main destination for former FACH pilots. But others are flying for carriers in India, Vietnam, Singapore and other Asian countries. In fact, LAN itself has lost a number of pilots -- some who earn as much as $25,000 a month, not including housing and other benefits -- to foreign carriers.

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