ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. —
The Air Force Reserve Command is expanding the Aviation Bonus Program to qualifying Air Reserve Technicians (ART) as part of an effort to increase rated-aircrew retention.
“For years, eligible AGR pilots received bonuses of up to $25,000 per year. However, far fewer ART pilots were qualifying for similar incentives until very recently,” said Col. Mike LoForti, 920th Rescue Wing Operations Group commander.
LoForti also mentioned the request for ART retention incentives has increased dramatically, but the process is laborious, compared to applying for an AGR bonus. Therefore, the command is looking at ways to streamline or simplify the process for commanders.
The former AvB program was only approved for Active Guard or Reserve (AGR) positions. Changes to the program expand the bonus opportunities to ARTs who meet specific requirements.
“The target audience, which is the rated ART community, has already shown strong interest in the program,” said Christopher Vorse, Air Force Reserve Command chief of rated aircrew management.
Lt. Gen. Maryanne Miller, Air Force Reserve Command commander and Chief of the Air Force Reserve, said when it comes to the pilot shortage, the most challenging part isn’t attracting pilots, it’s keeping them.
She explained that AFRC as a whole is able to bring on a sufficient number of new pilots, but retaining them for the long term continues to be very problematic. This new incentive is in line with efforts to retain more pilots.
During the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on Defense hearing in April, Miller further addressed the pilot shortage and its hindrances.
“In response to these challenges, we’ve implemented bonuses, incentive pay, and special salary rates for our pilots and maintenance force. Though this approach has positively impacted retention, it may not be sufficient for the long term,” said Miller. “We need to continue to discuss other full-time support options and incentives with your staff and we need to garner support for these options to improve our full-time manning.”
For the program in conjunction with bringing more ARTs in to the Reserve, is the future of retaining them.
“The AvB competes with the economy when [commercial airline] pilots are retiring,” said Vorse. “This is a way to get ahead and close that gap, every day there are new applicants to the program.”
Eligible ARTs will receive a bonus of up to $18K, while AGRs will now receive up to $35K. Those interested have until Dec. 31 to apply.
AGR or ART aviators must meet the following minimum criteria to be eligible for an AFR AvB Agreement:
· Must be qualified for operational flying duty IAW AFI 11-401, Aviation Management, and AFI 11-402, Aviation and Parachutist Service, Aeronautical Ratings and Aviation Badges, and meet all other requirements for their particular aviation career specialty.
· Must be entitled to and receiving Aviation Incentive Pay (AvIP) at the time of agreement.
· Must be in the pay grade of O-5 or below at the time of agreement effective date (promotion to O-6 does not prohibit member from completing the agreement and payments).
· Must have completed the initial UFT service commitment (individuals who have joined the AFR through the Palace Chase program must have 10 YAS (pilots) or 6 YAS (CSO, ABM, or RPA pilot) since UFT graduation.
· Must have less than 24 YAS at the time of agreement effective date to be eligible for the minimum length agreement of 1 year.
· Must not be awaiting involuntary separation under AFI 36-3206, Administrative Discharge Procedures for Commissioned Officers.
· Must not have been dismissed or discharged for cause.
· Must not have retired or separated for any reason authorized under any provision of law or policy.
· Must not be awaiting an operational flying disqualification resulting from a Flying Evaluation Board (FEB) or a medical disqualification.
· May not perform Leave With Out Pay (LWOP) in any type of civilian status away from your ART position. ARTs must not use more than 31 consecutive days and no more than 60 cumulative days of LWOP in the bonus year and still receive the bonus.
The AFR is committed to retaining experienced Reserve Citizen Airmen with skills in critical demand such as pilots, maintenance technicians, space operators, cyber specialists and more.
For more information on the AvB Program, visit: https://mypers.af.mil/app/answers/detail/a_id/25988/p/18/c/447/p/18/c/447.