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Marine pilot retention bonuses hit 10-year low point

By Cpl. Pete Zrioka | | November 19, 2009

In a recently released bulletin, the Corps announced the lowest pay incentives for aviators in nearly a decade, which signals healthy retention among Marine pilots.

Aviation continuation pay is an incentive for eligible pilots and naval flight officers to continue flying for at least two more years. The bonus for fiscal year 2010 dropped between $3,000 and $5,000 for most pilots, according to Marine Administrative Message 637/09 released Oct. 27, 2009.

In fiscal year 2001, incentives were at a decade high of $18,000 and $25,000 for pilots’ short- and long-term contracts, and stayed that way until FY06, when declines of as much as $8,000 appeared.

Since the Corps is currently meeting aviator retention requirements, the bonuses drop and the limited funds devoted to retention incentives can be directed to other programs and still meet mission requirements, according to officials at manpower plans and policy division of Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

The incentives are divided into short- and long-term contracts. Short-term contract bonuses are available for aviators with no more than 11 years time in service who extend for at least two more years. Long-term contracts are for those with no more than 13 years service who stay another two years.

Short-term continuation pay for AV-8B Harrier pilots, like those in Yuma, dropped from $10,000 in FY09 to $7,000 and long-term Harrier contracts took a $5,000 dip to $15,000. FY10’s drop marks the first short-term contracts of less than $10,000 in almost a decade.

Pay incentives also dropped for all other fixed-wing aircraft, with the exception of the EA-6B Prowler, which remained consistent at $5,000 and $10,000 for short- and long-term contracts.

Naval flight officers of F/A-18 Hornets saw their long-term incentives cut in half, although their short-term ACP stayed at $2,500. Incentives for Prowler naval flight officers are unchanged from FY09.

Helicopter and MV-22 Osprey pilots all saw incentive drops as much as $3,000. Contracts for pilots of UH-1 aircraft dropped to $7,000 for short-term contracts and $17,000 for long-term.

In order to receive the pay, officers must meet the following criteria from Oct. 1, 2009, to Sept. 12, 2010, which are the effective dates of the program.

Applicants must be active duty captains or majors, who have completed their original active duty service commitment, qualified to fly operationally and are entitled to aviation career incentive pay.

Aviators with an existing ACP obligation who are not transitioning to a new airframe may not apply to transition aircraft based on higher incentives.

Those undergoing an aircraft transition are eligible for their former aircraft’s ACP, but may change their categories for a different incentive following transition completion.

In order to receive ACP, officers must submit their applications with a recommendation from their commanding officer to Headquarters Marine Corps. Applications must reach HQMC by Sept. 15, 2010.

For more information, see MarAdmin 637/09.

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