PREDATOR PILOT TOURS EXTENDED The Air Force knows it has a problem: its Predator drones are crashing way too often. Now, the service is starting to take some steps to keep the drones from going down.Air Force Times reports:
With a handful of exceptions, the four dozen Air Force pilots assigned to fly the 24 Predators have less than two years experience handling the plane.And once they reach the two-year mark, they are reassigned and likely will never fly the Predator again.The two-year mark traditionally is the time a new fighter pilot has shown he has enough experience to start preparing to lead a four-jet formation. Its not the time a new fighter pilot is told to change aircraft.The two-year Predator tour is about to change. Starting this spring, Predator pilots will serve three-year tours, the same time they would typically spend at other flying assignments.(article unavailable to non-subscribers)In fiscal 2002, the Predator had an accident rate about 30 times higher than manned aircraft [ and that figure doesn't include drones that were shot down.