New Career Opportunity in Naval Aviation
Contributed by Alan Rohlfing
In an effort to improve aviator retention, the U.S. Navy has announced that it’s launching the Aviation Professional Flight Instructor (PFI) program, a move that will allow pilots and naval flight officers to remain in the Navy later in their careers, typically as flight instructors.
The program is intended to provide selected officers enhanced career flexibility, greater stability with assignments, and rewarding experiences training the Navy’s newest aviators. Shortages in the service’s pilot community appear to be driving the program, however, as the Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps are all facing a pilot-retention crisis. The services complete with ample opportunities for jobs with commercial airliners that offer good pay, no risk of combat, and no at-sea deployments to take them away from their families. The Navy also increased bonuses available for certain officers earlier this year.
To be eligible for a spot, a pilot or naval flight officer must have completed or be currently serving in an operational or operational-training aviation department head assignment, have completed a flying tour in aviation production, have a projected rotation date in calendar year 2019, and have at least 36 months remaining before their statutory retirement date.
A naval administrative message, issued September 28, notes that this path is an alternative to the traditional sea/shore rotational career path associated with operational service and for officers who don’t wish to pursue command opportunities. The Navy is currently accepting applications from qualified aviators and flight officers for the first PFI board, scheduled for November 20. The program is slated to start sometime in calendar year 2019.
The Navy hopes the new PFI program will help it leverage enhanced fleet experiences among its ranks and address shortages of critical instructional skill sets of its current aviation professionals. Accepting a position as a navy Professional Flight Instructor will remove the officer from command consideration, but he or she would still be eligible for statutory promotion board consideration. Officers selected to become flight instructors can remain in the program until they choose to withdraw or retire, as long as they continue to meet applicable performance standards.
For program details, eligibility, and application procedures, read NAVADMIN 241/18 at www.npc.navy.mil or visit the Navy Personnel Command Aviation Bonus website at https://www.public.navy.mil/bupers-npc/officer/Detailing/aviation/Pages/Professional-Flight-Instructor.aspx.