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ThePointblank
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Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:37 pm

This is from Air Force Times, and it confirms what I've heard about the US drone controller community; many drone pilots believe that being a drone pilot is a potential dead end career with crappy working conditions:

http://www.airforcetimes.com/article...-Force-Improve-morale-drone-pilots

Quote:
The Air Force’s drone pilots believe there is a negative perception attached to their jobs, report low morale and receive insufficient training, a new government study found.

“Without developing an approach to recruiting and retaining [remotely piloted aircraft] pilots and evaluating the viability of using alternative personnel populations for the RPA pilot career, the Air Force may continue to face challenges, further exacerbating existing shortfalls of RPA pilots,” according to the Government Accountability Office’s report.

In response, the Air Force said it is reshaping how it recruits and retains its remotely piloted aircraft crews and is working to update its crew ratios. The service, however, rejected the suggestion that enlisted personnel fly drones.

“The Air Force, on multiple occasions, examined the use of enlisted RPA operators and repeatedly decided an officer was necessary to ensure rank is commensurate with responsibility,” the Air Force said. “The Chief of Staff of the Air Force concluded that the use of alternative personnel populations was not necessary based on a [plan] to fix accessions which is now proving successful.”

Senate leaders in Sept. 2012 asked the GAO to study the Air Force’s approach to managing the remotely piloted aircraft crews, which has tripled since 2008. The office formed focus groups at three bases: Beale Air Force Base, Calif.; Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.; and Creech Air Force Base, Nev., and found that the Air Force needs to listen to its RPA crews on how to improve the career field, evaluate alternative personnel populations to be pilots, analyze the effects of being deployed-on-station and analyze the effect of being a drone pilot on promotions.

“These individuals sacrifice so much to conduct missions vital to U.S. national security interests in a fast-paced, high stress environment every day,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said April 16 in a statement on the GAO report. “Given their mission’s importance, it is critical that the Air Force take necessary steps to ensure their success.

The GAO interviewed 10 focus groups at the three bases, which included active-duty pilots. Beale was included because it has crews that fly the RQ-4 Global Hawk, and Cannon includes airmen assigned to Air Force Special Operations Command.

The focus groups’ input includes:

■ All groups said that being an RPA pilot does not negatively impact promotions, though promotion is difficult to achieve as an RPA pilot. Additionally, all said pilots have low morale, face challenging working conditions and are limited in pursuing developmental opportunities.

■Nine of the 10 said working conditions are improving, although the long hours and work supporting war efforts from afarputs stress on family and social lives. The focus groups also said the quality and quantity of training is insufficient, and pilots face uncertainty in their careers.

■Eight groups said RPA units have manning shortages and the RPA career field does not have a fully developed career path.

■Seven groups said rates of promotion are getting better. However, they said RPA pilots and leadership lack experience, and retaining crews will be difficult.

■Six groups said pilots experience a lack of feedback from their supervisors.

■Five groups said RPA pilots are lower quality performers compared with other pilots, and that the broader Air Force lacks knowledge of the RPA mission.

■ Four groups said the perception of drone pilots is improving, and that the Air Force is taking steps to address stress.

■All groups said there is a broad negative perception of drone pilots.
 
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Tugger
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:44 pm

Quoting ThePointblank (Thread starter):
This is from Air Force Times, and it confirms what I've heard about the US drone controller community; many drone pilots believe that being a drone pilot is a potential dead end career with crappy working conditions:

I can only imagine the contempt they likely receive from others that consider themselves "real pilots". They don't have a chance in hell of getting a promotion from the brass that loves only their "own kind", I mean look at the crap that occurred between the "fighter mafia" and the "bomber mafia".

Tugg
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fsnuffer
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Apr 24, 2014 12:46 am

You could do the same story for most non-pilot career fields in the Air Force. The fact is their is institutional favoritism in the Air Force towards pilots and if you can't handle that than join one of the other branches. The good news is the non-rated people vastly outnumber the rated community so it is easy to ignore them at the O-Club.
 
cargotanker
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:22 am

Quoting tugger (Reply 1):
I can only imagine the contempt they likely receive from others that consider themselves "real pilots". They don't have a chance in hell of getting a promotion from the brass that loves only their "own kind", I mean look at the crap that occurred between the "fighter mafia" and the "bomber mafia".

As a USAF pilot, I hold no contempt for RPA operators, luck has happily kept me out of their ranks. Their promotion statistics thru O-5 should improve, but Col and above will probably always lag, especially in Air Combat Command.

Quoting fsnuffer (Reply 2):
You could do the same story for most non-pilot career fields in the Air Force. The fact is their is institutional favoritism in the Air Force towards pilots and if you can't handle that than join one of the other branches. The good news is the non-rated people vastly outnumber the rated community so it is easy to ignore them at the O-Club.

Typical shoe clerk response. The pilots in the USAF are the ones (especially the fighter & bomber guys, unlike me) who do the actual FIGHTING, which is kind of important to the air force. Why should support officers expect any parity when they're at the butt-end of the spear? Plus, a lot of the RPA folks are ex-pilots who have lost their dream of serving as a USAF pilot for their career. Not so for the officers filling the admin positions, like public affairs and finance. It makes a huge morale difference. So, yes, if you want the same importance as a fighter pilot, I would suggest going to pilot training and earning a fighter slot or joining the Army infantry.

Who still goes to the o-club anyways? The CGOA?
 
fsnuffer
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:45 am

Quoting cargotanker (Reply 3):
Typical shoe clerk response. The pilots in the USAF are the ones (especially the fighter & bomber guys, unlike me) who do the actual FIGHTING, which is kind of important to the air force. Why should support officers expect any parity when they're at the butt-end of the spear? Plus, a lot of the RPA folks are ex-pilots who have lost their dream of serving as a USAF pilot for their career. Not so for the officers filling the admin positions, like public affairs and finance. It makes a huge morale difference. So, yes, if you want the same importance as a fighter pilot, I would suggest going to pilot training and earning a fighter slot or joining the Army infantry.

I did not say that rated crew members did not deserve their swagger. I fully realize that the pilots are the pointy end of the spear. You response however, is a perfect example of my comment above. your contempt for the "admin" folks who get up at 3 am in the morning and prep your jet or the contracting officer who buys your gas is obvious in your comment. All I stated was that if you could not fly and handle the institutional bias, which I happen to agree with because of the first word in the Air Force motto, that you might want to pick another service. As for being a Shoe Clerk, I was actually a Navigator. You know, "self loading baggage", "talking ballast".
 
cargotanker
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Apr 24, 2014 1:25 pm

Quoting fsnuffer (Reply 4):
I did not say that rated crew members did not deserve their swagger. I fully realize that the pilots are the pointy end of the spear.

What you said was this:

Quoting fsnuffer (Reply 2):
The good news is the non-rated people vastly outnumber the rated community

No person with a proper focus on the mission and operations considers it "good news" that the non-rated vastly outnumber the rated in the air force. It leads to a lack of focus, mission queep, calling everybody a "warrior" and prioritizing community service actions over combat actions.

Also, if you were a nav (a rated position), why would you be happy that the non-rated vastly outnumber the rated? Any why would you ignore the rated folks at the o-club?

Quoting fsnuffer (Reply 4):
your contempt for the "admin" folks who get up at 3 am in the morning and prep your jet

Your comment was specifically about officers, no maintenance officer is out on the flightline turning wrenches at 3am. MX officers show up at 7 to prepare power point slides for the 10 briefings they have every day. Aircrew have plenty of respect for enlisted maintainers who visit the flightline and make jets fly.
 
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Apr 24, 2014 2:26 pm

Quoting fsnuffer (Reply 2):
The fact is their is institutional favoritism in the Air Force towards pilots and if you can't handle that than join one of the other branches.

The point of the article is that these people are pilots! Sure, their butt isn't in the a/c, but they have similar stress levels in accomplishing their mission safely and correctly. They end up having to make the same decisions when they discover a target and have to recommend or decide to fire the weapons. Some say that they have the advantage of going home after a mission, but one can imagine that it's hugely difficult to go home to spouse and kids after blowing up a school that some one told you was a militant training base. You might be better off psychologically if you were in a remote base surrounded by team mates rather than going back home to normalcy then back into the war fighter mode and back and forth each day of the week.

Also, one can imagine that those who joined thinking they were going to jump to the airlines once they had sufficient time under their belt are pretty disappointed to be flying a drone.
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Tugger
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:09 pm

Quoting cargotanker (Reply 3):
The pilots in the USAF are the ones (especially the fighter & bomber guys, unlike me) who do the actual FIGHTING, which is kind of important to the air force.

You do realize that is it actually now the RPA guys that are actually doing the fighting now for much of what the Air Force does don't you? How does that factor in to your concept of who is "important"? They can't fully replace the "tip of the point" of the spear, the live bodies in the aircraft for certain missions, but the bulk of the devastation and "force" (the rest of the "tip of the spear") will quite likely be performed by UAV systems controlled and piloted by RPA's.

Tugg
I don’t know that I am unafraid to be myself, but it is hard to be somebody else. - W. Shatner
There are many kinds of sentences that we think state facts about the world but that are really just expressions of our attitudes. - F. Ramsey
 
FSXJunkie
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Apr 24, 2014 3:19 pm

Hmm,

So the 'Drone Dukes' are this decade's 'Bomber Barons'

TAC/ACC seems to be "overwhelmed"...AGAIN with it's mission portfolio. Seriously, the fighter jocks seem to have problem with properly balancing their specialties, they of course are ego infused that dedicated manned fighter-craft can do it all.

The more of these "low morale" stories come out, the weaker the USAF becomes, Air Combat inxreasingly demonstrates that it is an inefficient organization atrophying the service at large.

SAC is dead (the ex-MAJCOM ruled 2/3 of overall USAF personnel and maintained a high degree of morale across the board despite 'no notice' ORI's and a disciplinary ethic that would make a Marine wince, and while the Bomber clique didn't love the missiles they helped cultivate a very strong missileer culture [that AFSPC later destroyed.]

Global Strike is an impotent fArce (the continuing ineptitude giving the Ruskies the courage to rape Ukraine)

MAC/AMC is a Logistics Airline (my opinion may improve when C-17's stop accidentally landing at civilian airports)

TAC/ACC is an administrative disaster (they drove the deterrent into the ground, are trying to kill dedicated CAS...during a COIN war, and a now starting to run the drones into the ground metaphorically [it's the CIA's job to do it literally on Iranian soil].)

Can the USAF just shove that "Chief of Staff is always right" mantra up their collective @$$$es, out Merrill McPeak as a moron for Destablishing SAC, giving TAC missions it can't handle and has no interest in handling, and also for turning the Air Force's administration into a bureaucratic "corporate" nightmare (no reflective belt? NO SOUP FOR YOU!)
 
Oroka
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:00 pm

In all fairness, I think it is the basic interpretation of the occupation that is causing the issue. Really, these drone 'pilots' are more controllers than actual 'pilots'. Then when you put them in a room with some of the biggest hotshot pilots on the planet... yeah, I would shrivel up too.

Drones are just that, unmanned aircraft. No one flys it, it flies itself unless someone steps in, and that is usually just to manually control sensors and weapon systems.

Controller of Operator is much more appropriate than 'Pilot'. It would be like calling a nurse a doctor... but they are not really a doctor.
 
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DeltaMD90
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:15 pm

I'd be depressed too. Let's be real, it's no where near as prestigious as being a pilot in an aircraft, you are looked down upon, and I don't think your flight hours count for the airlines. A lot of the thrill of flying is probably absent too. Question is, do they really need fully qualified pilots to operate these things, or can they train others to do so? IIRC, the Army uses enlisted guys that train for about a year to fly UAVs. Keep the pilots in cockpits I say
 
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kanban
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Apr 24, 2014 4:35 pm

Here we have kids who thrived on playing war video games and killing the bad guys.. now they are paid to do that and they suddenly develop a moral/morale crisis? Are they going on strike for recognition or a chance to be real pilots? Maybe they should have read the fine print.. they're in the service now, not some foo-foo group hug company, and should concentrate on their assignments.
 
cargotanker
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Apr 24, 2014 5:25 pm

Quoting kanban (Reply 11):
Maybe they should have read the fine print.. they're in the service now, not some foo-foo group hug company, and should concentrate on their assignments.

Yes, the fine print. The fine print that also says we could get wounded or killed by serving our country. We should all just shut up and serve, right? Cause we're just a bunch of grown-up nintendo kids? You might need to re-think some things.

These guys (and gals) most likely graduated near the top of their class in high school, attended and graduated from the Air Force Academy or other prestigious university, graduated from USAF pilot training, and served an operational flying tour most likely involving combat operations in SW Asia. They've worked their butts off for over a decade. Why did they work so hard? Because they wanted to be USAF pilots. In return for this hard work, the USAF is going to send them to the [email protected] of Clovis, NM or Creech, NV where they will not be pilots but perform continuous 12 hour shift work for years on end. Very little possibility of getting back into the cockpit, performing a skill that has no use in the civilian world. They have every right to be bitter.
 
j.mo
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Apr 24, 2014 7:20 pm

Quoting cargotanker (Reply 12):
In return for this hard work, the USAF is going to send them to the [email protected] of Clovis, NM or Creech, NV where they will not be pilots but perform continuous 12 hour shift work for years on end. Very little possibility of getting back into the cockpit, performing a skill that has no use in the civilian world.

...But they still get to dress up like pilots.

JM
 
andydtwnwa7
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Apr 24, 2014 8:27 pm

Quoting DeltaMD90 (Reply 10):
Question is, do they really need fully qualified pilots to operate these things, or can they train others to do so? IIRC, the Army uses enlisted guys that train for about a year to fly UAVs. Keep the pilots in cockpits I say
Quoting cargotanker (Reply 12):
These guys (and gals) most likely graduated near the top of their class in high school, attended and graduated from the Air Force Academy or other prestigious university, graduated from USAF pilot training,

While I know for a while they were sending rated pilots to fill the RPA ranks, they now have a separate career field specifically for RPA operators (AFSC 18X), with its own training pipeline. For the sake of argument, I'm aware they still occasionally pull a UPT graduate or operational pilot to fill an empty slot, however they are quickly moving away from that practice. Getting ready to start UPT myself, I have plenty of friends who were selected to go the RPA route. For the past few fiscal years, they've offered the top rated applicants in ROTC/USAFA (can't speak to OTS, but I imagine it's the same) pilot slots. Once all pilot slots are filled, the next applicants are offered CSO and RPA slots. In other words, they've known from the minute they were offered the slot that they would be joining the RPA career field. They become fully qualified RPA operators once they complete their training, but are not able to cross to a manned platform unless they apply/get selected to attend pilot training down the road.

Again, not debating the fact that fully-rated pilots have been forced into the RPA career field, but the Air Force has already created a separate training pipeline and is trying to move away from that practice. For what it's worth, I have yet to see any graduate at my training base get assigned to RPAs, and I've been here for several months.

Further info on the new RPA training: http://www.holloman.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123289389
 
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Apr 24, 2014 9:29 pm

Quoting DeltaMD90 (Reply 10):
Question is, do they really need fully qualified pilots to operate these things, or can they train others to do so?

The thread starter's article said:

Quoting ThePointblank (Thread starter):
“The Air Force, on multiple occasions, examined the use of enlisted RPA operators and repeatedly decided an officer was necessary to ensure rank is commensurate with responsibility,” the Air Force said. “The Chief of Staff of the Air Force concluded that the use of alternative personnel populations was not necessary based on a [plan] to fix accessions which is now proving successful.”

So USAF thinks at the minimum these RPA 'operators' need to be officers. I imagine it's more of a pay/status thing, because the Army lets enlisted folks fly helicopters and command tanks.

Quoting kanban (Reply 11):
Here we have kids who thrived on playing war video games and killing the bad guys.. now they are paid to do that and they suddenly develop a moral/morale crisis?

C'mon, man. It's nothing like that, it's just like:

Quoting cargotanker (Reply 12):
These guys (and gals) most likely graduated near the top of their class in high school, attended and graduated from the Air Force Academy or other prestigious university, graduated from USAF pilot training, and served an operational flying tour most likely involving combat operations in SW Asia. They've worked their butts off for over a decade. Why did they work so hard? Because they wanted to be USAF pilots. In return for this hard work, the USAF is going to send them to the [email protected] of Clovis, NM or Creech, NV where they will not be pilots but perform continuous 12 hour shift work for years on end. Very little possibility of getting back into the cockpit, performing a skill that has no use in the civilian world. They have every right to be bitter.

  

As noted above, hopefully this scenario isn't playing out very often these days.
Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world
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Wake now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings
The heart has its seasons, its evenings and songs of its own
 
elmothehobo
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Mon Apr 28, 2014 12:55 am

Quoting Revelation (Reply 15):
So USAF thinks at the minimum these RPA 'operators' need to be officers. I imagine it's more of a pay/status thing, because the Army lets enlisted folks fly helicopters and command tanks.

There haven't been enlisted pilots in the Army in nearly two decades, and those were aerial observers. Warrant officers form the bulk of Army aviation, with line officers (O-Grades) holding all but a handful of command positions. Perhaps the Air Force should consider a warrant officer program for the RPA community (though I doubt that would see the light of day).

FWIW, the Navy recently experimented with Warrant Officer pilots in the EP-3 community because of issues related to officer development (there were but a handful of opportunities for progression for line officers in the community, it effectively became a dead end airframe). In the end they abandoned the program because it became difficult to manage a small WO career progression program in the aviation community.
 
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seahawk
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Mon Apr 28, 2014 9:55 am

Do not make pilot be UAV controllers - simple as that. This job could be of serious interest for people who are not fit for a pilot job (physically). If you do have the eyes, ears or fitness to be a real USAF pilot, you might still have the brains to be a great UAV operator.
 
ThePointblank
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Wed Jan 07, 2015 8:30 am

An update to this story: it appears UAV crews are now at a breaking point:

http://www.stripes.com/report-genera...e-crews-are-overstretched-1.322546

Quote:
WASHINGTON — The head of Air Combat Command recently warned the Air Force Chief of Staff that troops who conduct unmanned air operations are overstretched and can’t meet the Pentagon’s growing demand for drones indefinitely, according to a report this week.

In a memo obtained by the Daily Beast, Gen. Herbert “Hawk” Carlisle reportedly told Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh that the Air Force’s manning woes — a result of fewer airmen coming in and more leaving the program — require it to ask the Pentagon to ease off on a proposal for 65 unmanned combat air patrols, or CAPs. Each CAP generally includes four Predator or Reaper aircraft.

ACC believes we are about to see a perfect storm of increased COCOM [Combatant Commander] demand, accession reductions, and outflow increases that will damage the readiness and combat capability of the MQ-1/9 enterprise for years to come,” Carlisle wrote. “I am extremely concerned.”

It is mentioned later on in the article that 10 personnel are required to maintain a CAP. Not sure if this includes the launch/recovery folks who are in-country (likely) or the maintainers (unlikely).
 
Kiwirob
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Wed Jan 07, 2015 10:30 am

Quoting cargotanker (Reply 12):
They have every right to be bitter.

They have every right to leave if they don't like the job.
 
ThePointblank
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Wed Jan 07, 2015 5:40 pm

Quoting KiwiRob (Reply 19):
They have every right to leave if they don't like the job.

Actually, they don't, as that's called desertion and is equivalent to a criminal offence..
 
Kiwirob
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Wed Jan 07, 2015 6:06 pm

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 20):

Actually, they don't, as that's called desertion and is equivalent to a criminal offence..

Not really you sign up for a certain period of time, if you don't like what you're doing you don't re-enlist.
 
Buckeyetech
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Wed Jan 07, 2015 6:20 pm

This goes back to heart of the issue. Which is that there is a certain amount of jealousy within the Air Force, where a cargo aircraft pilot can fly around the world to exotic locations, but the missileers, and drone pilots are stuck behind a desk in such glorious places like Minot, North Dakota, or New Mexico, without much incentive to re-up.
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ThePointblank
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Jan 08, 2015 4:03 am

Quoting KiwiRob (Reply 21):
Not really you sign up for a certain period of time, if you don't like what you're doing you don't re-enlist.

What kind of message are you saying to the personnel? "Too bad your assignment sucks, you can wait until your re-enlistment comes up and you can quit, ending your military career?"

If you intend on serving on the military for your life, you are telling people who want to be in the military as a long term career choice to quit. It is a slap in the face to those who want to serve. Not a good message to be sending.

And it is this sort of attitude that sinks companies in the private sector; managers, CEO's, and VP's all having that attitude of 'if you don't like your job with us, then quit'. It says that the company doesn't deserve your loyalty because they can give a crap about you. And the very same managers wonder why they can't keep people...
 
FrmrKSEngr
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Jan 08, 2015 7:21 am

I think the UAV jocks need a flight demonstration team of their own.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, coming to show center are the USAF Thunderdrones!!!!!"   
 
Kiwirob
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Jan 08, 2015 7:39 am

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 23):
What kind of message are you saying to the personnel? "Too bad your assignment sucks, you can wait until your re-enlistment comes up and you can quit, ending your military career?"

The military is like any job, if you don't like it when your contract is up quit.
 
ThePointblank
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Jan 08, 2015 7:55 am

Quoting KiwiRob (Reply 25):
The military is like any job, if you don't like it when your contract is up quit.

And that's the worst sort of attitude to have when you have retention issues. If you are having retention issues, you need to actively identify why you are having retention issues, fix them so turn over is reduced. The sort of turnover being displayed in the USAF's UAV community is a type of turnover that any private sector company would aggressively try to avoid, as this type of turnover really cost an organization. Too much turnover is not only costly, but it can also give an organization a bad reputation, and harms productivity if your most skilled workers leave, and you have to constantly train new workers to fill roles.

While some turnover is expected and desired, too much is bad. No organization has ever survived encouraging their top performers to quit and leave.
 
Kiwirob
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Jan 08, 2015 10:58 am

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 26):
No organization has ever survived encouraging their top performers to quit and leave.

I never said that, I said if people aren't happy with their job they should quit.
 
ThePointblank
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Jan 08, 2015 11:25 am

Quoting KiwiRob (Reply 27):
I never said that, I said if people aren't happy with their job they should quit.

And if you want to serve your country with the USAF as a long-term career, and they assign you to UAV's, what do you do now? Quit after your enlistment is over, and completely total your career, with no reasonable job prospects for anything related?

You are suggesting that the USAF ignore the personnel problems it has with the UAV force. That's an unacceptable attitude. The USAF needs to fix the personnel problems within the UAV community to make it a better workplace, not stick their heads in the sand.
 
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Jan 08, 2015 1:15 pm

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 28):
The USAF needs to fix the personnel problems within the UAV community to make it a better workplace, not stick their heads in the sand.

It sounds like it's an issue of expectations. Many in the military have career paths with no close analogy in the civilian world and work in isolated locations and they accept that just fine. It seems to me USAF has to manage those expectations better. It also seems to me that if geographic location is an issue and fixing that is cheaper than all the training they have to do to make up for losses, that they should be able to fix that too.
Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world
The heart has its beaches, its homeland and thoughts of its own
Wake now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings
The heart has its seasons, its evenings and songs of its own
 
mikesbucky
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Jan 08, 2015 6:29 pm

Quoting KiwiRob (Reply 27):
I never said that, I said if people aren't happy with their job they should quit.

I guess you've never heard of stop loss. The US military has the ability to force you to stay past your separation date if the needs of the military require it.

They've done it many times in the past, especially in hard to man career fields during times of conflict.

Just quitting is not always an option.
 
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par13del
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Jan 08, 2015 7:11 pm

Quoting tugger (Reply 1):
I can only imagine the contempt they likely receive from others that consider themselves "real pilots".
Quoting tugger (Reply 1):
"fighter mafia" and the "bomber mafia".

I imagine that the "trash haulers" - Cargo pilots - now have someone to throw down on when the fighter and bomber mafia give them a go  
Quoting FrmrKSEngr (Reply 24):

I think the UAV jocks need a flight demonstration team of their own.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, coming to show center are the USAF Thunderdrones!!!!!"  

Seriously, I like this idea.
The US Military is spending billions on drone technology, we see B-2's now doing fly by's at sporting events, why can't a Predator or Global Hawk do the same, it is also a display of US Military might showing the citizens how their tax dollars are being spent.
How about a Predator over flying the stadium beaming the live feed unto the jumbotron.
Nice
 
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Tugger
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Jan 08, 2015 7:18 pm

Quoting par13del (Reply 31):
Seriously, I like this idea.

I seriously do too! But he problem is unmanned flying over populated and civil controlled airspace. Not gonna happen, at least not yet and not for a while. They need to get the rules set for the use of unmanned aircraft overall and it has been a cluster for awhile to get any, just look at the mess with small drones....

Tugg
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JohnM
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Thu Jan 08, 2015 10:24 pm

The USAF should learn from their parent service, the Army, about enlisted UAS drivers. There are lots of very intelligent and squared away troops (especially aircraft maint) who would welcome a nice career change as a UAV stick wiggler. I really don't feel sorry for missile officers and UAV pilots that feel sad, who make pretty decent $. It is not like these jobs are unimportant.

Chuck Yeager started off as an enlisted pilot, a history degree doesn't make anybody a better pilot or operator. It is the ability to learn and dedication that is needed.

These whiners should spend a few days with fleet service dumping shitters on aircraft, or some guy changing clamps in the belly of a cargo plane in August. Lots of people have some tough jobs in the military, that aren't especially fun. Those guys need to grow up.
 
checksixx
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Fri Jan 09, 2015 5:15 am

They should just make it a 2 year controlled tour with pilots pulled from flying units. That way you know how long you'll be there, and roughly when you'll go back to flying duty. Otherwise, make it all enlisted.
 
AWACSooner
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Fri Jan 09, 2015 11:13 am

Quoting fsnuffer (Reply 4):
. As for being a Shoe Clerk, I was actually a Navigator. You know, "self loading baggage", "talking ballast".

Don't forget our other name "box monkeys."
 
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par13del
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Sun Jan 11, 2015 9:40 pm

Quoting Tugger (Reply 32):
But he problem is unmanned flying over populated and civil controlled airspace. Not gonna happen, at least not yet and not for a while.

....for normal use I agree it will be awhile, but fly overs at sporting events are special permission events and are treated as such by the FAA, especially the timing to ensure that they arrive over the stadium at the end of the anthem.
Now when the artist decides to do something that was not planned the timing get's screwed up, I have seen a couple of those.
 
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ssteve
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Mon Jan 12, 2015 12:02 am

Quoting AWACSooner (Reply 35):

Don't forget our other name "box monkeys."

Hey box monkeys and shoe clerks, thank you for your service.

Same to the UAV guys.

Sounds like a problem, and I agree with the above comment that the exit plan and duration of service should be known if you rotate through these units. Even that, though, they need quite a bit of brainstorming to make it not two years in purgatory. Like expecting the grand high muckey mucks to have experience in these units. And having everything except the work be fantastic. Like establishing a base in Key West stealing Google's playbook for employee perks. It's crazy if these jobs are in west bumblef**k. Are they trying to make everything suck?
 
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Moose135
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Mon Jan 12, 2015 12:39 am

Quoting SSTeve (Reply 37):
It's crazy if these jobs are in west bumblef**k. Are they trying to make everything suck?

Loring AFB, Minot AFB, K. I. Sawyer AFB, Grand Forks AFB, I could go on - SAC made it work...
KC-135 - Passing gas and taking names!
 
INFINITI329
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Mon Jan 12, 2015 8:35 am

Quoting elmothehobo (Reply 16):
Perhaps the Air Force should consider a warrant officer program for the RPA community (though I doubt that would see the light of day).

I think this is the way to go. Legally the USAF are allowed to have warrants they just choose not to for the last 34 years. it makes no sense to drop over a million dollars on a pilots flight training to stick them behind a rpa
 
Alfons
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Mon Jan 12, 2015 4:57 pm

Pilots decided one day in life to learn how to fly. Either way due to love of flying, because it's inside the familty, because one love moving around big airliners, or another one looks for the kick of tight turns and the aspect of military life.

It takes you thousands of hours, years and theoretical studying, until you fly a combat airplane. No pilot is going to do that, only to drop bombs one day on the head of someone else. So in case you ever really had to kill someone by your F-16, you will have at least had a few ten thousand hours of work around your F-16/Jettrainer/Cessna before that, which has nothing to do with the trigger and the radar picture of a manned object in a crowd going apart below you. Means, you have a certain balance in your life... .

A UAV "pilot", well, I guess you get the point. He/she misses strongly this balance in life.

There has been more than one Israeli combat pilot who devoted his life to become a F-15/16 driver, after the first few days of using his vehicle outside of a training mission, lost the faith in his job.

I don't envy any UAV pilot, even if paid above average.

[Edited 2015-01-12 09:01:12]

[Edited 2015-01-12 09:03:49]
 
INFINITI329
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Mon Jan 12, 2015 7:04 pm

Quoting Alfons (Reply 40):
There has been more than one Israeli combat pilot who devoted his life to become a F-15/16 driver, after the first few days of using his vehicle outside of a training mission, lost the faith in his job.

He was just being to naive and that his own fault. fighter aircraft are not designed to be someone's chariot and play toy. It is designed to do one thing that is to bring the maximum level of destruction.. period.
 
Flighty
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Mon Jan 12, 2015 8:03 pm

Quoting par13del (Reply 31):
we see B-2's now doing fly by's at sporting events, why can't a Predator or Global Hawk do the same, it is also a display of US Military might showing the citizens how their tax dollars are being spent.

Stage 1. Now. Pilot and drone duties are substantially the same. They both sit in darkened cockpits and stare at gauges.

Stage 2. 20 years. All pilots operate their aircraft from a remote bunker, assisted by AI. There are no manned aircraft, because drones have made them obsolete. The pilots do not drive to work, AI drives them.

Stage 3. 40 years. Human pilots are no longer able to defeat artificial intelligence countermeasures to drones. Only superior AI can defeat that. Humans make strategy level requests from the bathroom in their slippers and the AI handles the job.

"Siri, will you please do a flyby at the Dodgers game and notify the local authorities before you do it."

Stage 4. ?????

[Edited 2015-01-12 12:05:40]
 
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cjg225
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Mon Jan 12, 2015 11:32 pm

Quoting Flighty (Reply 42):

Stage 4. ?????

Skynet becomes self-aware and we all die.

Quoting Moose135 (Reply 38):
SAC made it work...

When SAC was considered substantially more relevant. It may become relevant again, but it made those bases work in the old days.

The nuclear force isn't exactly a bastion of high morale now.
Restoring Penn State's transportation heritage...
 
ThePointblank
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Tue Jan 13, 2015 1:58 am

Quoting Moose135 (Reply 38):
Loring AFB, Minot AFB, K. I. Sawyer AFB, Grand Forks AFB, I could go on - SAC made it work...
Quoting cjg225 (Reply 43):
When SAC was considered substantially more relevant. It may become relevant again, but it made those bases work in the old days.

Probably because there was actually an avenue for pilots and crew to ADVANCE in their careers with the Air Force. What happens to a pilot assigned to UAV's? Stuck in some sort of hell hole, and overworked to the point where you can't take any courses or do anything that can allow you to be promoted down the line. Which means, your career is on permanent halt if you get picked to be a UAV operator.

And what happens when you retire and want a job in the private sector? No airline will take you as you will have no relevant and recent experience, nor will any defence or aviation company take you as a test pilot, so your only prospects is more drone flying working working for companies under contract with the military, such as MacDonald Dettwiler.
 
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Revelation
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Tue Jan 13, 2015 2:22 am

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 44):
Probably because there was actually an avenue for pilots and crew to ADVANCE in their careers with the Air Force. What happens to a pilot assigned to UAV's? Stuck in some sort of hell hole, and overworked to the point where you can't take any courses or do anything that can allow you to be promoted down the line. Which means, your career is on permanent halt if you get picked to be a UAV operator.

Ok, so who's fault is it that so many still seem to think that you can join up and have your scarf flying in the air behind you during training, press a few buttons and yell out "FOX 4" and smoke a few bandits during your glory days, then get all the training you need to have a seamless transition on to a high paid future as an international airline pilot?

It's pretty clear USAF knows how many UAVs it's been buying for so many years now, and how many pilots/operators that are needed to keep those a/c operational.

As above, it seems the USAF is well behind the curve on managing expectations. As always it takes a long time to turn a supertanker.

However, speaking of tankers, UAVs don't have refueling probes, so, well, let's not count on having 1-1 replacements on the KC-135s.... Should be pretty self evident, but some can't seem to wrap their heads around the concept.
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Flighty
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Tue Jan 13, 2015 9:49 pm

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 44):
Which means, your career is on permanent halt if you get picked to be a UAV operator.

And what happens when you retire and want a job in the private sector?

It tend to think systems analysis, signal intelligence, data analysis, and AI will not only be a primary qualification for fast advancement in the armed forces. It will also be an incredibly lucrative private sector career path. Designing, operating and programming clever systems is what Google does all day, what the NSA does, what Lockheed does etc. This is shaking up the military just as much as it is corporate America, which is what this article is about. The amount of money (brass?) involved is going way up, not down.
 
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ssteve
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Wed Jan 14, 2015 12:19 am

That's the thing, though. The private sector isn't going to confuse a drone operator with a computer science major. It's like paying video games vs. making them. And unfortunately, playing them isn't a hot skill.
 
ThePointblank
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Fri Jan 16, 2015 9:10 am

Update: The USAF is issuing big raises to UAV operators:
http://www.military.com/daily-news/2...rone-pilots-to-1500-per-month.html

The incentive pay is going from from $600 to $1,500 per month, along with considering some changes to bonus eligibility.
 
INFINITI329
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RE: Usaf Drone Pilots Suffering From Morale Crisis

Sat Jan 17, 2015 6:26 pm

Quoting ThePointblank (Reply 48):
Update: The USAF is issuing big raises to UAV operators:
http://www.military.com/daily-news/2...rone-pilots-to-1500-per-month.html

The incentive pay is going from from $600 to $1,500 per month, along with considering some changes to bonus eligibility.

This coupled with bringing back the warrant officer ranks could be problem solved for the air force in my opinion.

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