Thursday, Air Force Secretary Deborah James briefed reporters on the state of the Air Force, she gave a stark warning on the overburdened remotely piloted aircraft program (drones).
James said, “The airmen who perform this essential mission do a phenomenal job. But talks with the RPA pilots and the sensor operators and their leaders certainly told me, suggested to me, that this is a force that is under significant stress. Significant stress from what is an unrelenting pace of operations. Now, these pilots, just to give you a little color on this, fly six days in a row. They are working 13-, 14-hour days on average. To give you a contrast, an average pilot in one of our manned Air Force aircraft flies between 200 and 300 hours per year. Again, these are averages. But in the RPA world, the pilots log four times that much ranging from 900 to 1100 flight hours per year. Again, this is very stressful operations because mistakes can cost lives.”
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