14:22 GMT +320 November 2018
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    A technician works on a German Tornado jet at the NATO air base in Incirlik, Turkey.

    German Air Force Union Chief Opens Up on Why Luftwaffe is Losing Pilots

    © AFP 2018 / Tobias Schwarz
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    According to recent reports, more and more pilots of the Luftwaffe choose to leave the military, dissatisfied with their work. Seven pilots have recently finished their careers, including Nicola Baumann, who was a space flight candidate. The chairman of the Combat Aircraft Crew Union of the German Federal Armed Forces has shed light on the reasons.

    According to the recent report “Augen Geradeaus!” seven Luftwaffe Eurofighter pilots have left the army this year. The media states that the number may be even higher, according to insider reports, and points out at the bureaucracy as a main reason.

    Sputnik spoke with Thomas Wassmann, the chairman of the Combat Aircraft Crew Union of the German Federal Armed Forces (VBSK), who revealed who hijacks representatives of the army’s elite pilots.

    Space Candidate’s Farewell

    Among those who resigned there is Nicola Baumann, who could manage two types of planes: the Tornado and the Eurofighter jets. Besides she had a space flight to look forward to, which was part of the private space initiative "The Astronaut," but in December 2017 a surprising retreat followed as the pilot left "on their own request." Baumann, born in 1985, had studied mechanical engineering and worked for the German military for almost 14 years before she resigned, announcing her departure on Facebook, posting a view from her cockpit.

    "Today is my last active day in the service of the military forces. With this post, I say goodbye to this wonderful view – after more than ten years of active jet flying," her message reads.

     "After passing my jet training, I became a professional officer with a special age limit set at 41 without a right to request… Say: I should fly jets until I’m 41, and then go home with a (reduced) retirement allowance. This was a perfect and highly attractive plan for my life!"

    Discussing the retirement of a potential space candidate from the Luftwaffe, Wassmann explained that in the Air Force there is a special group of career officers who can retire from the age of 41. But Ms. Baumann was unable to retire at 41 as a so-called subcontractor, like she had initially planned.

    "She has had her terms of employment changed unilaterally to being a professional soldier. And with resignation, she signaled, 'Then I prefer to go eight years before the term and start building something out of the Forces, as I won’t get the part-pension at 41, " Wassmann stated.

    According to Wassmann, Ms. Baumann may be already working or trying to find a place in the HR business, more specifically in the consulting field. He thinks she is perfectly fit for such a position "because she has got experience by now thanks to her career, which pays off."

    Nicola Baumann hadn’t responded to an interview request from Sputnik until the editorial deadline.

    Those Who Can’t Fulfil Themselves in Aviation, Relocate

    Baumann’s case isn’t unique, as Wassmann points out at a new dimension of layoffs, saying, "There have been such resignation waves every now and then," said the Union activist. "What’s different now is that the trend specifically affects Eurofighter pilots. As a rule, there are longtime servicemen, well-trained flight instructors.”

    "The seven Eurofighter pilots who have recently resigned have their own reasons. Not all of them have switched to civil aviation. This is very different. Money is not the main reason. Basically you can assume: Pilots want to fly. If they can’t fulfill themselves in the Air Force, then they look around. That's one of the main factors in most cases," Wassmann told Sputnik.

    READ MORE: Germany Plans to Spend €450 Million for Army Modernization — Drop in the Ocean?

    According to him, there are those who "actually switch to private aviation, airlines and other airlines. There are some who work for the arms industry. And there are certainly some people who make their hobby a profession."

    "One can’t say now, they have all changed to Lufthansa," the union leader stresses.

    With Job Profiles Changing, Layoffs Come

    Wassmann told Sputnik that the job has changed a lot anyway and that not all of them have been positive.

    "Unfortunately, pilots are less and less able to actually fly and are getting more and more tasks, which don’t help to be content of their job," the man points out. He suggests that the Air Force should care about giving young pilots more opportunities to fly.

    “Make sure people exercise in their main job: flying. But they are burdened with all kinds of accessary tasks, which is pretty difficult. This is out of whack everywhere. Things like tradition and fellowship also play a role here. This profession was something special. And now it is not anymore. Speaking about headhunting and the career development of the management, there is also a need to catch up," Wassmann told Sputnik.

    The views expressed in this article are solely those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

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    space program, army aviation, military, air force, Germany
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