Written Answers. - Air Corps Engineers.

Patrick McCartan

Ceist:

22 Mr. McCartan asked the Minister for Defence his views on whether there is a basic difference between officers in the Air Corps who are pilots and those who are engineers, in that engineers are already usually qualified when they join the Air Corps and therefore the Defence Forces do not have to pay the full cost of their training; if, in view of this, he will accept the recommendation of the Gleeson report and abandon compulsory retention of engineers by 1995; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

The position is that persons appointed as aeronautical engineers in the Air Corps are usually in possession of basic degree level engineering qualifications on appointment and require further training for a number of years before they are fully qualified aeronautical engineers. The Gleeson Commission accepted that the granting of applications for retirement from Air Corps officers must be done on a phased basis which allows for the gradual release of officers, while allowing the Air Corps to fulfil its operational commitments. Since the publication of the Gleeson report a policy of allowing a limited number of Air Corps officers to retire each year has been implemented. Under that policy two aeronautical engineers were granted permission to retire in 1990 and one aeronautical engineer was granted permission to retire this year. It is considered unlikely that the compulsory retention of any category of Air Corps officers will be necessary after 1995.