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U.S. Department of Transportation Releases Final Report on Forces to Flyers Initiative to Assist Military Veterans in Becoming Pilots

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation today announced the release of a final report on Forces to Flyers, a three-year research initiative offering interested military veterans an opportunity to earn commercial pilot’s licenses and flight instructor certifications. The report evaluates the initiative’s success in meeting project goals and provides lessons learned for future efforts to assist veterans in obtaining flight training to become airline pilots. The report also discusses pathways and opportunities for Americans seeking to become airline pilots, including flight training options. 

“The Forces to Flyers demonstration project has helped veterans transition from military service to good paying jobs as pilots,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao. 
The U.S. Department of Transportation and its Volpe National Transportation Systems Center developed Forces to Flyers in response to the airline pilot shortage that existed in 2017, which negatively impacted air services to small and rural communities across the country. Under the initiative, researchers sought to study pathways for entering the pilot workforce and identifying barriers to training and employment. One portion of the research was the development of a flight training demonstration focused on providing flight training to veterans on an accelerated schedule at vocational flight schools. The final report released today assesses the demonstration’s success in meeting its goals, including training efficiency, cost-effectiveness, veteran employment, and producing more pilots.

The Forces to Flyers demonstration resulted in 32 veterans earning a commercial pilot’s license with a multi-engine rating, which allows them to begin a career as a professional pilot. The report highlighted the high cost of flight training as a key barrier to people interested in becoming airline pilots, for veterans and non-veterans alike. The report also indicates that airlines and private sector operators themselves may be in a strong position to recruit, screen, and train future pilots as the needs of the labor market change and as airlines recover from the challenges of the COVID-19 public health emergency.