With airlines lagging, Army looking to bring former aviators back

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U.S. Army AH-64 Apache helicopters from the 4th Infantry Division's 4th Combat Aviation Brigade used Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, as a stopover May 20, 2020. The helicopters are in transit from their home post of Fort Carson, Colo., to Fort Drum, N.Y. (Army photograph by Tyler Greenlees)
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With airlines running a reduced flight schedule and generally not hiring, the Army is open to accepting former aviators and crew members back into the service, according to the Army’s command chief warrant officer for the aviation branch.

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jon Koziol appeared on a Facebook livestream Wednesday evening from Fort Rucker, Ala., and explained the opportunities to those tuning into the page for the Rotary to Airline Group, known as RTAG, founded to help veterans transition to the airline industry.

“As we are all well aware, this global pandemic has made unprecedented impacts on the world’s economies and our personal way of life,” he said. “Some of those impacts may have directly affected your ability to pursue your goals of working for the commercial sector, specifically the airlines.”

U.S. Army AH-64 Apache helicopters from the 4th Infantry Division’s 4th Combat Aviation Brigade used Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, as a stopover May 20, 2020. The helicopters were in transit from their home post of Fort Carson, Colo., to Fort Drum, N.Y. Positions are available for reserve-component Apache pilots to come back on active duty, the Army’s aviation branch announced last week. (Army photograph by Tyler Greenlees)

The Call to Active Duty, or CAD program, allows Army Reserve and National Guard aviators to apply for a three-year stint back on active duty, Koziol said. Aviators are needed for AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, as well as CH-47 Chinooks, UH-60 Black Hawks and in some instances, fixed wing assignments.

The retiree recall program is also a possibility, Koziol said, and other programs exist for veterans who only served a few years in the branch.

“No matter how much time you have served in the Army, you are still a Soldier for Life and part of this team,” he said. “We could use your expertise.”

Some Army civilian positions are available for aviators on Fort Rucker, he said, directing listeners to check the USAJobs website. In addition, contractor positions are available under instructor and maintenance contracts.

UH-72 Lakota pilots are needed to instruct the Initial Entry Rotary Wing and other courses. Test pilots are also needed and additional opportunities exist for fixed-wing pilots, mechanics and others, he said.

New York Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crews conduct water bucket training in Riverhead, N.Y., June 12, 2020. Positions are available to bring some National Guard and Army Reserve aviators back on active duty, the Army’s aviation branch announced last week. (Air Force photograph by Senior Airman Sean Madden)

“Basically across the board, there is more than likely a good chance that we can find a spot for you where you can help,” Koziol said.

While there’s no current shortage for OH-58D Kiowa pilots, some other positions may be available for those aviators, said Chief Warrant Officer 5 David J. Stock II, aviation branch warrant officer proponent.

“We do have the ability, in some instances, for the right officer to bring back some OH-58D pilots and use them in a non-flying position,” Stock said.

Koziol said recent studies indicate it may take commercial airlines two or three years to get back to the operating schedules that they had prior to the pandemic.

Recent news reports state about 100,000 employees of the nation’s four largest airlines have volunteered to take unpaid or low-paid leave.

The airlines have not yet laid workers off, because the bailout federal funding they received barred layoffs, involuntary furloughs and pay cuts. But that requirement expires Oct. 1, leaving thousands of pilots, flight attendants, baggage handlers, mechanics and others at risk of layoffs.

U.S. Army Sgt. Matthew Cullen, with the 1-214th General Support Aviation Battalion, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade oversees terrain on a CH-47 Chinook helicopter during an air assault exercise on Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, June 6, 2020. (Army photograph by Spec. Hunter Garcia)

In addition to the active force, the Army Reserve and National Guard also have positions available for aviators, Koziol said. Positions vary depending upon location and the aircraft in each state, he explained.

“If you’re willing to move, there’s more than likely a good chance there’s an opportunity for you to serve,” he said.

For a return to active duty, Koziol estimates it usually takes about three months to process a request. You can expect an updated Call to Active Duty message within the next two weeks that will help shorten the application process.

“We just ask for your patience,” he said. “We do want you back.”
 
 
 

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