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Japan to resume sending SDF pilots to private carriers

This article was published February 15, 2014 at 4:12 p.m.

TOKYO — The Japanese government has decided to revive a program that encourages Self-Defense Forces pilots to switch to commercial airline companies, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

Private Japanese airlines face the problem of securing enough pilots to cover a shortage expected in the near future. The airline industry as a whole is expected to welcome the reintroduction of the system, sources said, as SDF pilots have relatively many hours of flight experience, making them ready-to-work resources. The program would resume in fiscal 2014.

There are three types of ASDF pilots: fighter pilots, transport plane pilots and rescue aircraft pilots. Pilot candidates must pass physical examinations and aptitude tests before undergoing flight training. There are about 2,000 pilots in the ASDF. About 10 are women.

Fighter pilots, who are all men, require strong physical and mental strength and usually withdraw from active front-line service in their 40s.

The system to encourage SDF pilots to work at commercial airlines mainly targets fighter pilots of this age bracket. The Self-Defense Forces aim at maintaining high levels of flying proficiency.

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