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Aviators offered up to $125K in bonuses to stay

Mar. 15, 2013 - 06:20AM   |  
Yearly continuation bonuses for eligible E-2C Hawkeye pilots will jump from $10,000 in fiscal 2012 to $20,000 this fiscal year. Here, a Hawkeye launches off the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis in 5th Fleet in January, joining an F/A-18E Super Hornet. F/A-18 pilot bonuses stayed steady at $25,000.
Yearly continuation bonuses for eligible E-2C Hawkeye pilots will jump from $10,000 in fiscal 2012 to $20,000 this fiscal year. Here, a Hawkeye launches off the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis in 5th Fleet in January, joining an F/A-18E Super Hornet. F/A-18 pilot bonuses stayed steady at $25,000. (MC2 Kenneth Abbate / Navy)
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Continuation pay bonuses

A breakdown of fiscal year 2013 bonuses (per-year rates; contracts last five years) by squadron, job and aircraft (Source: NAVADMIN 047/13):
• HM Pilots, MH-35 Sea Dragon: $15,000 per year, up from $10,000 in fiscal 2012.
• HSC Pilots, HH-60H Rescue Hawk/MH-60S Seahawk: $15,000, same as FY 12.
• HSL/HSM Pilot, MH-60B/R Seahawk: $15,000, up from $5,000 in FY 12.
• VAQ Pilot, EA-6B Prowler/EA-18G Growler: $25,000, same as FY 12.
• VAW/VRC Pilot, E-2C Hawkeye/C-2 Greyhound: $20,000, up from $10,000.
• VFA Pilot, F/A-18A-D Hornet/F/A-18E-F Super Hornet: $25,000, same as FY 12.
• VP Pilot, P-3 Orion/P-8 Poseidon: $10,000, same as FY 12.
• VQ (T) Pilot, E-6B Mercury: $15,000, same as FY 12.
• VQ (P) Pilot, EP-3 Aries II: $15,000, same as FY 12.
• VAQ Naval flight officer, EA-6B Prowler/EA-18G Growler: $20,000, same as FY 12.
• VAW/VRC NFO, E-2C Hawkeye/C-2 Greyhound: $15,000, up from $10,000.
• VFA NFO, F/A-18B,D Hornet/F/A-18F Super Hornet: $5,000, down from $10,000.
• VP NFO, P-3 Orion/ P-8 Poseidon: $15,000 same as FY 12.
• VQ (T) NFO, E-6B Mercury: $20,000, up from $15,000.
• VQ (P) NFO, EP-3 Aries II: $10,000 same as FY 12.

The Navy is paying aviators even more to keep flying. Bonuses for aviators heading into a department head tour have gone up or held steady for all but one category.

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The Navy is paying aviators even more to keep flying. Bonuses for aviators heading into a department head tour have gone up or held steady for all but one category.

Adding up the annual bonuses paid over five years, aviators can earn anywhere from $25,000 to $125,000.

It’s a particularly good year for the rotary community, with aviation career continuation pay at $15,000 per year for all eligible pilots across airframes. For MH-53E Sea Dragon pilots, this means a $5,000 increase. Pilots flying MH-60R and SH-60Bs will receive a $10,000-per-year increase, while pilots at the controls in HH-60Hs and MH-60Ss will see the bonus stay the same.

The bonus was increased for five communities and decreased only for F/A-18 Hornet back-seaters. Their ACCP was cut from $10,000 to $5,000. Also, command, at-sea and astronaut bonuses, incentives eliminated last year, have not been reinstated.

The details were released in NAVADMIN 047/13. “The ACCP program provides selected bonuses as an incentive to retain sufficient eligible pilots and naval flight officers through department head milestones,” it reads.

Lt. Cmdr. David Ganci, the ACCP program manager at Navy Personnel Command, said 1,068 aviation officers are eligible for this year’s program.

Qualified officers are within one year of the end of their minimum service requirement, and they are eligible up to the end of the fiscal year in which their MSR expires.

Aviators receive an annual amount for five consecutive years. For example, a pilot earning $25,000 in ACCP will receive $125,000 through the duration of his contract through five installments. The value of the contract will not be adjusted, even if pay levels change in the future. There’s an Aug. 31 deadline to apply for the program, so aviators who signed a deal in fiscal 2012 won’t be able to get the more generous contracts offered this year.

E-2C Hawkeye and C-2A Greyhound pilots are offered $20,000 — the NAVADMIN was released with an incorrect and lower figure for these two airframes and had not been corrected as of press time.

Hawkeye and Greyhound naval flight officers will see their yearly bonuses go from $10,000 to $15,000. E-6B Mercury NFOs will go from $15,000 to $20,000.

Bonuses for Hornet and Mercury pilots, as well as pilots and NFOs in E/A-6B Prowlers, EA-18G Growlers, P-3 Orions, P-8 Poseidons and the EP-3 Aries II, did not change from last year.

ACCP is a force-shaping tool the Navy uses to encourage aviators to stay in the service and to help meet manning goals in different communities. Personnel officials monitor “take rates” — the frequency with which aviators accept ACCP — to predict attrition levels and help set bonuses.

“Take rates fluctuate year to year based on several factors: screen group size, department head demand signal, platform transition and perceived health of the economy. The ACCP program is structured to take those factors into account during development in order to meet retention requirements while minimizing excess retention,” Ganci said in a statement.

Retention rates for pilots with between seven and 12 years of service climbed when the economy sank in 2008, while retention rates for NFOs with the same experience held steady at just over 50 percent, Naval Air Forces figures show.

Historically, retention has been lowest amongst P-3 Orion, EP-3 Aries II and E-6B Mercury pilots, aviators whose time flying large props and jets for the military builds a resume for a second career in commercial aviation.

Before fiscal 2011, the Navy gave all pilots the same amount of ACCP, no matter the airframe. All NFOs received the same amount as well, but typically less than pilots. There was a perception of inequality under the old system, and some aviators wouldn’t continue with their military career out of principle, studies and Navy officials said. As such, the service began basing ACCP on designator and airframe, a system in place today.

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