Military Pilot Training

Military Pilot Training


Military pilot training is a critical enabler of military outputs and like them should be expressed as a capability. A capability is defined as the ability to deliver the desired effect. This effect will vary for nations depending on factors such as size and the national security policy/strategy. For example the desired effect of a nations Air Force pilot training capability may be to:

“train sufficient pilots at the right time with the right competencies in order to deliver military air operations”

Clearly the capabilities of the USAF far exceed the capabilities of the RNZAF. Flying training is more than students, instructors and aircraft. It is the cumulative effect of people, equipment, syllabus, techniques and other resources. This is why most organisations including the military describe a capability as the product of a construct such as PRICIE:

* Personnel
* Research and Development
* Infrastructure/organisation/structures, all major infrastructure works projects
* Concept of operations/doctrine/collective training
* Information and technology
* Equipment and logistics

Ignoring all the components of PRICIE may result in problematic projects or failure of projects to realise their intended benefits. For example any pilot training project that neglects information and technology may miss out on Computer Based Teaching (CBT) opportunities or be inefficient because IT solutions were not considered. However only the better resourced military’s or commercial organisations can afford to invest in Research and Development in order to improve training outcomes.

Military Pilot training System Comparisons

A review of various pilot training systems reveal different approaches taken by the various organisations. Most military training providers incorporate a two phase system consisting of a basic flying training phase and an advanced flying training phase. The basic phase is completed on a light piston type aircraft, while the advanced phase is conducted on a single engine turbo-prop. Normally pilots would graduate with their wings at this stage before being ‘streamed to their various roles such as multi-engine, rotary wing or fast jet.

There are many variations to this training continuum. For example many air forces conduct flight screening in order to improve graduation rates by removing candidates they predict will fail later in the programme. Some nations military stream earlier after the primary phase in order to reduce the time it takes to generate an operational pilot.

Military Solutions

Most nations conduct their own military pilot training predominantly because of traditional reasons and the desire to retail control over training outcomes. Retaining control over training outcomes also allows the organisation to quickly adapt to any changes in national policy and strategy that require changes to military outputs. This control comes at significant cost when considering all the elements of capability that support the training system.

There is a trend among nations to seek other ways of getting value for money from their pilot training. This desire for efficiency and safety mirrors the commercial imperatives.

Private Public Partnerships (PPP)

Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) are widely used internationally to provide enhanced value for money and to advance delivery of essential capability earlier than is otherwise possible through normal funding channels. The most common use of PPPs is through the use of contracting civil organisations to conduct flight screening. Normally the flight screening is conducted by ex-military flight instructors.

Outsourcing (other foreign military providers)

Examples of this category include USAF run Euro-NATO Joint jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT) and the NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) programme which also happens to be a PPP. Outsourcing offers significant advantages to nations who only need to train a small cadre of pilots or have limited resources financially or geographically in order to implement their own training.

Turnkey Solutions

Turnkey solutions are similar to PPPs. A turnkey solution is a solution that can easily be implemented based on the resources already at the disposal of a company or individual. In most cases, it is one of the more desirable ways to effect a solution, but may not be an option regularly. The imagery devised by the phrase turnkey solution conjures up that of turning a key to start a motor running. An example of a turnkey military pilot training solution was the 12 Billion pound contract between the UK MoD and Lockheed to provide a turnkey solution including through life support for UK Military flying training for 25 years.

Differences Between Civil and Military Pilot Training

Military capability training requires pilots to fly and operate aircraft in demanding multi-crew environments, using the full performance of the aircraft while managing operational risk. This contrasts with the focus of civilian pilot training where the emphasis is on the avoidance of risk at all times and the operation of aircraft well within their limits, in a highly controlled, regulated and largely predictable environment with a slow, incremental approach to pilot development.

This is not a comment on the competencies between the two groups other than the requirements of the outputs dictate different approaches to flying training. A commercial wide bodied passenger jet aircraft captain has a solemn and significant responsibility to care for his/her cargo of “human treasure”and cargo. The damage to a commercial carriers reputation is so great that most airlines take great care in ensuring their aircrew demonstrate the best possible airmanship competencies.[1]

1. ^ Kern, Anthony T,; Kern, Tony (1997). Redefining Airmanship. McGraw-Hill Professional. pp. 21. ISBN 0070342849.

Want to know more?

USAF Euro-Nato Joint Jet Pilot Training Retrieved 01 October 2010
Public Private Partnerships. Retrieved 04 October 2010.

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