An emergency decree published late last month in Turkey, announced that scores of former fighter jet pilots who are now working in civilian aviation, face a mandatory recall that they have to abide by, or risk losing their licences.
Between 200 and 300 civilian pilots, many of whom work for the national flag carrier, could now be summoned back to fill a shortage in the air force created by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s purge of the military after last year’s failed putsch, analysts and pilots say.
The Financial Times reports, that the news sent shock-waves throughout the aviation sector.
“Everyone is asking: have they summoned us yet?”, said a Turkish Airlines captain who counts several former military pilots among his closest colleagues.
“It’s a very difficult situation for these guys. They’ve bought houses in Istanbul, found schools for their children. And now they are being asked to leave.”
The recall is the most drastic step so far in Turkey’s scramble to plug a gaping hole at the heart of its air force. It was at the forefront of the putsch attempt in July 2016 during which rogue F-16 fighter pilots strafed the streets of Ankara, and launched air strikes on the parliament.
After the insurrection was quashed, hundreds of F-16 and F-4 pilots were arrested or expelled, the Financial Times notes.