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Air Force Stemmed Its Pilot Crisis, Chief Says

The Air Force believes it has contained an emergency threatening its core mission, despite persistent estimates it doesn’t have enough pilots at a time it’s facing off against new threats from China and Russia.

By the end of 2018, the Air Force had a shortage of roughly 800 active duty pilots spurred by an inability to retain airmen and train new ones quickly enough. Shortages among Reserve units account for another 1,200-pilot shortfall. The service counts roughly 12,500 active duty pilots among its ranks. Outside assessments predicted the problem would only worsen within the next five years.

The pilot shortage is part of a wider international problem as militaries and commercial airlines scramble to fill empty cockpits. And it has wrought widespread concern, including from some in Congress who consider the shortage “a serious crisis.”

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