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The commander of Canada's air force wants to pay retention and signing bonuses to pilots, one measure of several meant to address the military's shortage of experienced aviators.

In a message to air force members today, Lt.-Gen. Al Meinzinger says the moves are "vital" to stabilizing the military's ranks at a time of unprecedented competition for skilled aviators.

The new initiatives aim to minimize the amount of time pilots spend on the ground rather than in the cockpit by streamlining training and cutting non-flying responsibilities.

There are also plans to look at retention bonuses for more experienced aviators and signing bonuses to attract former military pilots from Canada and elsewhere back into uniform.

Meinzinger acknowledges some of the measures will take longer to implement than others, but that he is hoping to fix the military's pilot shortage in the next five to seven years.

Air force officials said last fall that they were short 275 pilots and the federal auditor general found the military doesn't have enough pilots to fly the country's CF-18 fighter jets.