The Air Force could recall up to 1,000 retired pilots after President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at addressing what the Pentagon has described as an “acute shortage of pilots.”
The order, which Trump signed Friday, amends an emergency declaration signed by George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Under current law, the Air Force is limited to recalling just 25 pilots. The order signed by Trump temporarily removes that cap for all branches of the military.
A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Gary Ross, said in a statement that the Air Force is currently “short approximately 1,500 pilots of its requirements.”
“We anticipate that the Secretary of Defense will delegate the authority to the Secretary of the Air Force to recall up to 1,000 retired pilots for up to 3 years,” Ross said. “The pilot supply shortage is a national level challenge that could have adverse effects on all aspects of both the government and commercial aviation sectors for years to come.”
In August, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson confirmed that the service was short 1,555 pilots of its requirements, including 1,211 fighter pilots.
At the time, Wilson announced the Air Force was increasing incentive pay to officers and enlisted crew members for the first time in 18 years. The service also expanded its aviation bonus program to apply to include pilots who were out of contract.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.