Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF)

Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) program is a cooperative agreement between the Department of Defense and commercial airlines created to supplement the military’s airlift capabilities during times of increased demand. The program calls on commercial carriers to voluntarily provide passenger and cargo aircraft to augment military aircraft during contingency operations. It also enables the military to access aircraft under contract in non-contingency situations.

Learn more about CRAF in this article.

Definition of Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF)

The Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) is a program directed by the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) and managed by the Air Mobility Command that provides additional airlift capacity to meet global air transportation requirements in times of national emergency or crisis. It was established in 1951, as an agreement between the airlines and the government to use commercial air transports to supplement military airlift operations during wartime.

The CRAF works by providing capacity to Department of Defense (DoD) during periods when additional capability is needed. The program includes several components, such as:

  • Aircrew Program, which pays for U.S.-based aircraft crew members who volunteer for service;
  • The Aircraft Storage Program, which stores aircraft at pre-determined locations for response during an activated period;
  • The Aircraft Lease Program, which allows fixed-wing aircraft or engine leases on demand from commercial providers;
  • The Rotation/Tiered Assignment System (RTAS), which uses a two-tiered system to assign cargo flight priorities.

Additionally, CRAF also collaborates with partners around the world for mutual assistance and resources in times of crisis or emergency situations.

The CRAF program provides an invaluable resource to DoD’s ability to support its global mission objectives and enables the most efficient utilization of U.S.-flag carriers’ services during times of urgency when additional lift capacity is needed.

Purpose of CRAF

The Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) was established by the U.S. Department of Defense for the purpose of supplementing military airlift capabilities during times of national emergency, such as natural disasters, war, or terrorist attacks.

CRAF is an agreement between civilian air carriers and the U.S. government which reinforces the government’s ability to provide expeditious transport of personnel and cargo to meet civil and military needs during times of mobilization or other periods of high demand.

The program allows commercial aircrafts to be designated reservists when they commit to providing their aircraft in support of any declared mission by the President or Secretary of Defense. Air carriers may participate in CRAF in exchange for priority access to business opportunities provided through contracts under negotiation with allied countries’ militaries and from select commercial customers when demand exceeds U.S. military capacity requirements for peacetime operations or missions performed by existing military assets worldwide.

CRAF is made up primarily of U.S.-flag aircraft certified by the Federal Aviation Administration that have met rigorous maintenance and security standards set forth by the Department of Defense to ensure quality service and safety operations during deployments and exercises both domestically and abroad—helping reduce potential strain on existing defense budgets that would otherwise be allocated towards Flyingtogether Login Ual building new planes or replacing older ones in such short timeframes.


The Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) program was established in 1951 as a way to mobilise the civilian airline industry for military operations during wartime. Over the years, the CRAF program has evolved to include a number of provisions which have made it a valuable asset for the military.

In this section, we will take a look at a brief history of the CRAF program and explore how it has changed over the years:

Origin of CRAF

The Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) was an agreement between the United States Government and civilian passenger and cargo airlines created in 1950 to provide support for the U.S. military during times of conflict or national emergency budgets that would otherwise be allocated towards Flyingtogether Login Ual building.

In 1947, the U.S. Air Force published a major reorganization plan that included a proposal for the Air Force to contract with civilian carriers for its transportation needs in times of war or crisis. The Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) approved this concept that same year, leading to a Memorandum of Understanding being signed between the United States Armed Forces and several commercial airlines in 1950, officially beginning what was to come known as CRAF.

Under this agreement, these commercial airlines designated certain aircrafts as reserve forces, dedicating them to US government requirements if needed during times of crisis or war; thus ensuring that emergency airlift needs would be met through the cooperative effort of civilian air carriers and the US Government.

Since its inception, CRAF has provided essential airlift services on both short-term notice and routinely planned missions across all branches of service including support for Operations Desert Storm, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom; humanitarian efforts such as earthquakes in Japan and Mexico City as well as Operation Philadelphia Companion – a response effort from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 – among other needs throughout its existence dating back more than sixty years.

Evolution of CRAF

Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) is a program created by the United States Department of Defense to supplement military airlift in times of national emergency. The program, formally established in 1950, has evolved over time to respond to changing needs for air mobility.

Originally designed as a “surge capacity” system whereby civilian aircraft would supplement the military cargo airlift capability of the Military Airlift Command (MAC), the CRAF has taken on added roles following periods of military downsizing. Refocusing its efforts after the Cold War, in 1992 the Air Force introduced what is now known as Phase II CRAF that includes both cargo and passenger transport to assist with civil contingencies and natural disasters within the U.S., as well as support additional overseas operations beyond active warfighting missions.

Since then, CRAF has acquired additional aircraft capabilities and logistics networks through both Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) support contracts and inter-agency agreements with other civilian organizations such as Mercy Corps International Airlift Services (AMI) and Air Serv International among others. In addition, the airspace management complexities associated with requirements under both commercial regulations and U.S. Air Force direction are extensive and have been addressed in new layers of altered duty structure for volunteer participants from willing commercial fleets known collectively as “Reserve Call-Up” or RCU for short.


The Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) is a program established by US law to provide an operational capability to supplement military and civilian airlift requirements in times of war or national emergency. The program relies on the voluntary participation of civilian airlines that contract with the Department of Defense (DoD) to provide air cargo services as both cargo and passenger airlift.

This section will delve into the structure of the CRAF program & How to Use Flyingtogether Mobile Website:

Types of Aircraft in CRAF

The Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) is a group of aircraft made up of both commercial and passenger planes from U.S. airlines that are available to the Department of Defense for transporting troops, supplies and/or other objects in-case of national emergency. The aircrafts in this fleet are divided into four distinct categories:

  • Category I: These aircraft portray a combination of large passenger airplanes, related capacity and capabilities, which include airlift of personnel, cargo, or both concurrently in a wide range of missions. Cargo transportation focuses on domestic movement only; with few exceptions, this fleet does not support international transport due to the agreement between the U.S. and other countries regarding fly-over rights and restrictions.
  • Category II: These aircraft are configured for international travel transporting both personnel and cargo when high priority needs exist for rapid overseas movement utilizing shorter runways than those required by Category I aircrafts. International documentation for individuals onboard is required for each flight mission – customs clearance may also be required depending on origin/destination points located outside the U.S.
  • Category III: These are commonly used personal and light business-class or charter aircraft with seating capacities ranging from 9 to 33 passengers – these craft limit CRAF’s flexibility as they cannot be used to perform nonstop or one-stop flights over long distances with their much lower satisfaction rates compared to commercial planes typically used in large airline operations including overseas hops with long distances supported by larger capacity commercial craft providing better efficiency, reliability, armor capability, time management and cost savings.
  • Category IV: The last category is comprised of helicopters which may provide general airlift support in areas where terrain poses major difficulties such as remote sites not served by fixed wing Category I through III craft due to lack of runway infrastructure sometime requiring specialized helicopters capable operation from offshore oil rigs (for instance).

Air Mobility Command (AMC)

The Air Mobility Command (AMC) is an active Major Command of the United States Air Force which serves to provide global airlift and other related services. As part of its mission, the command coordinates and utilizes the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF).

This section will delve into the structure of the CRAF program & How to Use Flyingtogether Mobile Website:

CRAF includes many war Reserve aircraft and becomes available during certain conditions involving a national emergency or greater level defense as declared by the president of the United State.

The CRAF is operated by several domestic U.S carriers, such as American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Atlas Air Cargo and multiple other companies who professionally handle a range of air cargo services. The members are required to equip certain aircraft that can be released from regular service during periods of heavy airlift requirements due to war or other national emergencies with most aircraft being held within 48 hours prior notice along with properly trained personnel for its operations managed by AMC.

The civil reserve fleet aircraft are further divided into two groups:

  • Priority one which consists of exclusively large passenger jets used for rapid military mobilization numbering about 130 planes that would be airborne within 24 hours after notification.
  • Priority two contains cargo jets mostly used for strategic purposes including several international routes numbering about 200 planes with up to 7 days notice.

In order to qualify for participation in Civil Reserve Air Fleet program each civilian operator must meet strict maintenance standards as these aircraft must play mission-critical roles in any emergency situation.

Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC)

The Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) is a major command of the United States Air Force, with its headquarters at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. It is one of 10 major commands of the U.S. Air Force and is responsible for recruiting, organizing and training more than 70,000 Citizen Airmen of the Air National Guard (ANG) and Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF).

AFRC provides support to the Total Force in support of combat operations and homeland security by providing access to trained Citizen Airmen when and where needed. The AFRC’s mission is to support America’s global needs for aerospace power by maintaining an effective, ready force through expeditionary airlift missions worldwide 24/7/365.

The AFRC also operates 24 flying wings organized into four regions:

  • Roanoke Rapids Regional Flying Wing in Virginia;
  • Little Rock Regional Flying Wing in Arkansas;
  • Sacramento Regional Flying Wing in California; and
  • Portland Regional Flying Wing in Oregon.

These wings provide direct airlift support to commanders whenever they need it most – such as during humanitarian relief operations or natural disasters, across all six geographical Joint Special Operations Areas – counter-drug operations over Central American countries, long-haul transport via VIP aircraft – command posts activated during peacetime contingencies or combat operations abroad – quick reaction alert aircraft monitoring U.S. airspace borders or Special Operations Forces deployed overseas.

Additionally, all CRAF personnel – from select reservists assigned to full-time active duty opportunities with AFRC units stationed around the world to Civilian Airmen temporarily mobilized for special assignments – are held to strict standards before, during and after deployment/mobilization completion. An important part of this training prepares participants for roles that may not be available outside of their normal Active Duty obligations, such as teaching classes on military protocol or repairing vital communications equipment used in war zones abroad.

CRAF Participation

The Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) is a program run by the United States Air Force that allows civilian air carriers to participate in strategic airlift operations. This program can be beneficial in a number of ways, such as, providing the opportunity for airlines to enhance their operations and capabilities while helping the Air Force during times of conflict or emergency.

Let’s take a closer look at the requirements and benefits of participating in CRAF:

Eligibility Requirements

The Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) program provides passenger and cargo airlift to the Department of Defense (DoD) in response to mission requirements. The CRAF is one component of the national mobilization merchant fleet. The DoD maintains a list of approved carriers as part of this program who are eligible to participate whenever an active mobilization order is issued, thus it is important for any potential participating carrier to understand eligibility requirements thoroughly.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • CARRIERS must be certificated by the FAA as U.S Flag Carriers and hold a Department of Defense Cargo Authorization Authorization Certificate
  • Must maintain at least two wide-body jets available for at least six months per contract year
  • Must abide by all safety standards set forth by regulatory authorities
  • Must demonstrate financial soundness and ability to complete contracted tasks
  • Carriers must provide proof of sufficient insurance coverage and updated indemnity certificates
  • Only carriers with majority ownership with U.S nationals are eligible for CRAF contracts

Benefits of Participation

The Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) is a program that allows the Department of Defense to contract with U.S. commercial airlines for transportation services during the times of national defence crises and other contingencies. The CRAF allows for airline companies to provide additional capacity in times of need, thus helping the Department of Defence optimize its transport capabilities by taking advantage of the commercial transport system more effectively than through use of only military personnel and aircraft.

Participation in the CRAF program provides numerous benefits to air carriers, both tangible and intangible. In exchange for participating in missions requiring specialized resources, carriers receive preferential consideration with regard to future U.S military airlift contracts – both government-sponsored and combat operations-related. Partaking airlines have access to advanced maintenance and engineering training procedures, providing increased safety standards throughout their operations on the whole. As such, more reliable aircrafts equate to increased safety assurance for all personnel involved in such activities – a large factor towards continued motivation within an organisation’s ranks.

Moreover, participating carriers are able to gain experience in military airlift operations as part of a contractual agreement with the US armed forces; an invaluable attribute that may prove extremely useful if further deployment is required at a later date.

Cost of Participation

CRAF is the U.S Department of Defense-sponsored program that provides commercial cargo and passenger aircraft to supplement U.S military airlift capabilities during periods of national resource crisis. Companies that choose to join the CRAF incur both up-front and ongoing costs depending on the level of participation they select.

Up-front Costs
Companies that enter the program must purchase 3-5 aircraft, or a “slot,” which may include any combination of passenger or cargo planes from either Boeing or Lockheed Martin. CRAF participants are responsible for all acquisition costs, including registration, changes related to federal government requirements and any applicable FAA information system licensing fees for flight planning applications used for traditional mobilization missions with the Department of Defense (DoD).

Ongoing Costs
Each year, CRAF participants in traditional missions will be responsible for certain overhead costs including administrative fees and system access fees, as well as supply chain initiatives like Cargo Preference Program compliance obligations. An additional fee may also be required depending on how many DoD sorties they wish to operate each year. Participants may be eligible for reimbursement from any owned or leased aircraft used either in domestic sorties within the United States by DoD contractor flight crews, or international sorties under U.S air carrier operations agreements with DoD entities outside the continental United States (OCONUS).

Current Status

The Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) program was established to augment the US military’s airlift capabilities. The program also assists the Federal government with responding to national emergencies. CRAF aircraft are owned and operated by private commercial airlines and flights are managed by the Department of Defense.

This article will discuss the current status of the CRAF program.

Challenges Facing CRAF

The Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF) has played a critical role in supporting the U.S. military’s global mobility mission for more than 50 years, providing a flexible and robust reserve of aircraft that can be called up in times of emergency or conflict. Today, however, the CRAF faces new challenges due to a changing landscape that includes lower airline profits, rising fuel costs, and changing technology that requires costly investments for air cargo carriers to remain competitive.

In order to address these challenges, CRAF members have implemented several changes such as reducing their cargo fleets, expanding their regional service offerings, and investing in technologies such as advanced routing software and real-time tracking systems. Additionally, CRAF members are working together on areas such as load optimization and developing efficient aircraft wheeling methods in order to maximize efficiency while keeping costs down.

The current economic climate continues to impact the availability of additional CRAF support aircraft; however the FAA recently approved several exceptions which will increase CRAF membership by five additional airlines and will make more aircraft available when needed. In addition to these changes, both the Department of Defense and Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have taken steps to streamline the process for determining training requirements for pilots operating under Craf operations.

CRAF’s long-term success depends on its ability to stay abreast of industry changes and technological advances in order to remain competitive in an ever-changing aviation market. The challenges it currently faces are not insurmountable but require collaboration from all stakeholders involved in order for CRAF members to remain viable partners with the U.S. Military into the future.

Future of CRAF

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been tasked to review and evaluate the current operations of the Civil Reserve Air Fleet (CRAF). This evaluation serves to determine whether any changes must be made in order to ensure that Flyingtogether Employee Login efficiently serves its mission in responding quickly to operational or contingencies and emergencies. The focus of this evaluation is to discern and analyze CRAF’s current status and future requirements.

Data collection, analysis, and interviews will be conducted with both CRAF passengers and operators, as well as FAA leaderships, on their respective roles in using the air reserve fleet for supporting domestic civil missions. This research seeks to answer critical questions such as:

  • What role does CRAF presently fulfill when providing support for civil mission requests?
  • What are the unique challenges that currently exist within the current system?
  • How can efficiencies be improved when using existing assets and systems?

The research results of this evaluation are intended to help shape an efficient system capable of quickly responding to domestic needs with a minimal disruption. It is expected that findings from this research will help identify areas for improvement and areas where the current system may already excel – providing detailed insights on everyone’s role in leveraging CRAF assets during contingencies or emergencies. This evaluation serves to determine whether any changes must be made in order to ensure that Flyingtogether Employee Login efficiently serves its mission in responding quickly to operational or contingencies and emergencies. Once completed, these findings will be presented onto executive leadership boards within HHS, DoD & DoT in order facilitate strategic planning on how best utilize airlift forces when responding rapidly future deployments or operations.