Navy increases retention bonuses for pilots

Naval pilots and flight officers could earn up to $245,000 and $195,000 respectively in bonuses over 25 years, thanks to a pay increase that took effect July 7.

The extra money is a mid-year increase to the fiscal 2000 aviation career continuation pay (ACCP) plan. Prior to the increase, pilots and flight officers were eligible for up to $125,000 in bonuses through the plan.

The Navy is offering bigger bonuses as part of a retention program. "There are more than 100 junior aviators who are either awaiting separation or are bonus-eligible and have not yet declared their intentions in fiscal 2000 alone. This program is designed to help these aviators in which the Navy has invested so much to decide to stay Navy," said Navy Vice Adm. Norb Ryan Jr., chief of naval personnel.

Pilots are not eligible for the bonus until after they complete initial flight training. According to Comm. Betsy Bird, a Navy spokeswoman, the majority of those eligible will be at the senior lieutenant and junior lieutenant commander level. Bird said the Navy currently has more than 12,000 aviators. About 30 percent of them will be able to take advantage of the aviation career continuation pay.

Those on sea duty will be eligible for a $15,000 a year for the duration of their assignments.

"The Navy provides funding for bonus programs based on the observed and projected retention rates and the needs of the service," said Bird. "Leadership recognizes the investment made in these highly trained and tactically experienced officers, and funds bonus programs in order to retain these officers."

Bird said the Air Force is also experiencing pilot shortages and has a "robust" bonus plan in the works to retain more people.

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