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Military Aircraft: Crew

Volume 497: debated on Tuesday 13 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department is taking to increase retention and recruitment rates of aircrew personnel in the UK armed forces. (290354)

Currently, within the armed forces, the level of aircrew manning is sufficient to meet the tasks that they are required to undertake. The outflow rates of aircrew are constantly monitored and the inflow is carefully matched to ensure that there are always enough aircrew. There remain, however, a number of specific areas of concern.

Financial retention incentives (FRIs) represent an important mechanism to achieve manning levels. There is an existing £50,000 FRI payable to eligible Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Air Force (RAF) career stream senior officer aircrew with an additional £50,000 payable to RN and RAF career stream senior officer pilots only.

Other recruitment and retention measures include the professional aviator pay spine which enhances the pay and terms and conditions and specialist pay (SP). SP is subject to quinquennial review, as part of a rolling programme.

Generally, across the services, recruitment of aircrew is healthy. However, within the Naval Service various forms of advertisements have been used. For example, the Royal Navy screened a television advertisement campaign for pilots incorporating an online game which simulated an aircrew aptitude test. Within the Army and RAF, recruitment of aircrew is robust and no specifically targeted recruitment initiatives are currently running for aircrew.