While the vast majority of U.S. Air Force pilots still control their aircraft from inside the cockpit, about 8.5 percent are drone pilots who operate their vehicles remotely. That percentage is expected to grow, but there's a problem: the Air Force can't get enough people to volunteer for the training, according to a new report written by Air Force Colonel Bradley Hoagland for the Brookings Institution think tank.
Here's the challenge: Drones are usually chosen for jobs that are "dirty, dangerous, or dull"—with dull being the key word here. Some surveillance drones require round-the-clock shifts, and the very stressful work is so time intensive that drone pilots often cannot take advantage of additional training and education, which in turn dampens their prospects for career advancement, according to the study.
Burnout also seems to be a major concern, as drone pilots quit at three times the rate of manned aircraft pilots.
If the Air Force can figure out how to get more people to sign up for drone training, the problem should self-correct: A larger pool of drone pilots would hopefully mean shorter shifts and more time for career advancement.
One way to increase the number of drone pilots would be for the Air Force to alter its requirements for pilots. The Air Force only allows commissioned officers to fly drones, and commissioned officers must have a bachelor's degree in addition to technical training. By contrast, the Army allows warrant officers, who only need a high school diploma or GED, to fly both unmanned aircraft and helicopters.
Or, it just might be that actually flying through the air will always be more awesome that piloting an aircraft from the ground.
Enjoy your last days of flying there pilots. It is more cost effective for a remote or autonomous aircraft. Even commercial airliners will soon be replacing pilots. I'm sure a pilot will be there for "just in case" but a commercial pilot for Delta makes over $100k. Some, over $200k. That's a lot of coin considering the number of pilots there are.
Now start subtracting the money needed for limo drivers, taxis... eh pretty much everything. 8.3 billion people and what will they be doing in 20 years? Not much. Software development, piloting, driving, manufacturing, building, etc. it will all be automated soon.
Luckily, musicians and artists will still be needed.
"Do not try and bend the spoon. That is impossible. Only try and realize the truth - there is no spoon."
Or maybe people just don't want a job where they are required to murder children.
The story itself suggests the solution. Let the drone pilots fly real aircraft in addition to their drone duty as an incentive. These aircraft needn't be combat types - they could be general aviation airplanes or even gliders. I expect real-world flying experience would benefit them.
I wonder if there is a large enough pool of wounded veterans to draw on? Many types of injuries would have no effect on your ability to fly drones.
Absolutely, "adaptation". From 2009 to 2012, there have been two thousand one hundred and fifty two human beings killed by drones in Pakistan, two hundred and ninety that were confirmed to be civilians, and an additional sixty four were children.
Quite an impressive record for a nobel peace prize owner, don't you think? So, why have there been so many children murdered on 0bama's watch, under his direction, "adaptation?"
I've never really liked the whole drone thing myself. I think like a Klingon. There is no honor in killing your enemy unless you can fight them face to face. Using drones... That's cheating. I don't want everything to be automated either. If flying cars ever become a reality. Very optimistic at this point, but if they ever do, I'd rather there be a manual option and an automatic one. Don't automate everything just look at our selection of countless movies on the topic. They all look bad, like the matrix, or Terminator.
@bildan actual flying skills are detrimental to a drone pilot.
Would you like to know more?
@jonsmirl if they used soldiers sailors and marines with actual experience they may be more likely to think for themselves and less willing to indiscriminately kill. Instead they target gamers without any real experience for recruitment.
Sometimes, what you ask people to do prohibits access to what you need. You can't torture someone to be excellent. So you get an army of mediocrity.
At the very least, build a better command center, that stuff looks so boring and uninspiring. Why would anyone leave their living room for that?
Just turn it into an XBox game and let 8 year old kids fly the drones. They'll shoot down everything. Reward them with bitcoins.
Just want to point out that this article is wrong. Most army warrant officers never touch the controls for a uas they are flown by the enlisted soldiers mostly privates and specialists
As Asippel87 mentioned, in the Army it's the enlisted that fly UAVs. It does go up into the NCOs, but that gets rarer and rarer the higher you go. While I was stationed in Iraq, we had several E-7s that still piloted, but the majority was done by PFCs and Specialists.
Another thing that the Army does to get more pilots is the physical requirements are a bit lower. We didn't take the same flight physical that the Air Force or normal pilots were required to take.
Finally: We also were not required to get a full pilots license. We took the same FAA ground school courses ( which almost 3/4 of it did not apply to us... ), but then we only had some specialized training in our specific UAS. A few went ahead and got full pilot licenses on the side, but it was not required for us.
If I could join the Air Force as a UAV pilot, I would. It was indeed an extremely boring job ( most of the time is just spent looking at various readings to make sure the plane is not crashing, while the plane flies itself. ), but boring is better than no job at all. Especially considering how much better the Air Force pays, and how much better its people are treated.
The honor is not in killing your foe at all. Face to face or otherwise.
besides the moral problems, the air force requires drone pilots to be officers ( who would want to join the military after getting a degree? the pay isnt bad for officers but most people dont know this) and then they have to do the same test as actual pilots which is stupid.
honestly a SrA (e-4) rank should be able to apply for drone pilot school... but those higher up think otherwise, and thus is why there is a shortage, and will be until the requirements are changed.
Are you kidding me? Ha! IF I could get into the military (I cannot since I'm diabetic) flying drones would have been PERFECT for me. I've been a gamer since I could hold an Atari joystick in my hands and believe me, scouting bland terrain for hours is just a stroll in the park.
Damnit military: If you would have allowed me entry, ALL of your unmanned vehicle issues would have been solved!
@adaptation - I have been an active member of the drone community for almost 8 years now. FYI there is no requirement to kill children. There has never once been an attack where the presence of children was known before the incident. If anything, they call an attack off if a child is noted as being present. While not true in all cases, the majority of the reported children casualties are just fabrications intended to instill distrust amongst people like you. Furthermore, you have no idea what is behind the recruitment process for this career field so I suggest you educate yourself before you speak blindly for a great group of people who ensure your safety and well being on an everyday basis.
Tuvix, you are a retard. The point of combat is to win, not have a fair fight. Otherwise we'd still be flying F-4s. You negotiate with the enemy with you knee in his chest and your knife at his throat. And flying drones, particularly Preds and Reapers, is nothing like a video game. Recruiting people that think it is, is one reason we have so many pilots and sensors quitting. But most leave because it is boring, 24/7 Ops for a 3 year tour is a brutal grind for line aircrew, and the AF treats us like crap when it comes to advancement.
Oh, yeah... and if you manage to keep your sanity after 3 to how ever many years the AF keeps you in Indian Springs (truckstop, trailer park, and casino in the middle of the desert), you have a 90% chance of being shipped to another garden spot of Alamogordo to instruct(looks like a meth addict documentary). How about some nice bases for dudes with the most thankless flying job. You don't even need a friggin runway. Why not put aircraft with loud engines in the middle of no where. I rant. This could go on forever.
@asippel, I want to make an observation about absolutes. If even one Warrant Officer is flying a UAV, that means the article was correct. You even contradict yourself self by saying MOST don't fly them, but that the article is wrong anyway! I suggest taking a course in Discrete Mathematics to learn truth tables, because the way you rationalize is faulty and a misrepresentation of the truth. Not unlike military leaders, I guess.
@vapur9, you have a point I should have said misleading. Still I've been flying uas for 4 years now and I have not once seen a warrant officer sit in the pilot seat. Uas warrants handle the planning side of the job and even though some may be able to fly the system those duties are almost entirely handled by enlisted soldiers not by warrants as this article would have you believe.
The problem has an easy fix. We are more apt to sleep using cruise control. In fact the smoother the ride the more boring it becomes so we need more distractions such as music and etc. How about making the experience more live with the seat that feels the vibrations of the drone as well as inclines and declines, canceling out vibrations and tilt upon target strikes. The monitors should be attatched to the chair platform and move with the chair assembly.
Hey Air Force, change the current requirements, change the way you do things, you might "access" a pool of "former veterans" who would jump at the opportunity to do something like this.....
I flew missions over N. Vietnam in the 60s. I wasn't concerned about it till I saw the world-famous picture of the girl burning in MY napalm. My life and conscience has been destroyed thanks to my government. May you burn in hell (together with me) Mr. Nixon.