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Cabinet approves plans to train two Air Corps pilots in Australia in bid to address retention crisis

There are around 100 Air Corps pilots in the force.
Jul 26th 2019, 6:15 AM 24,017 46


CABINET HAS APPROVED plans to send two Air Corps pilots to Australia in a bid to expedite their training as the number of pilots continues to deplete. 

The pilots will be dispatched to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) due to a high number of early retirements taken in the Air Corps in recent years.

The pilots will undertake between three and four months of training in Australia where they will then receive a 15-month placement with the RAAF to build flying experience within an operational setting. 

This is the first time that Irish forces have been sent to Australia for this purpose.

The number of Air Corps pilots is hovering around the 100 mark at the moment. However, an increase in the number of pilots trained to carry out missions is needed.

The decision to send the pilots is in line with provisions contained in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Australian Department of Defence and their Irish counterparts. The RAAF, on occasion, has offered training to other military forces it has alliances with. 

Minister with responsibility for defence, Paul Kehoe, has received Cabinet backing for the plan.

The Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Trade and Defence recently heard from the Representative Association of Commissioned Officers (Raco) about the staff retention crisis in the Defence Forces.

It pointed out that despite the recent high-profile recruitment drives in 2017 and last year, there was a net loss of 120 personnel in 2018.

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“There were 256 discharges in the first four months of 2019. This is by far the highest figure since the reorganisation of 2012. In April 2019 alone, there were an unprecedented 86 discharges,” General Secretary of Raco, Commandant Conor King said.

Members of the Defence Forces are set to see an immediate pay rise following the Cabinet’s approval of an increased €10 million remuneration package.

The changes will see a boost in the pay for the vast majority of personnel of between €602 and €675 per year. 

An Air Corps pilot can earn up to €50,000 in their position. However, other members of the force can earn much less. 

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Garreth MacNamee


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