Monday, May 24, 2010

Training to Fly-Option and System in the 21st Century

Air Marshal Ashok Goel (Retd.)
11, Silver State, Pilibhit Byepass Road,
Bareilly-243005 (U.P.) INDIA
Mob: 9411900090, 09999722636

Training to Fly-Option and System in the 21st Century

1. The well though out seminar (Better Late than Never) and timely.

2. The adage ‘The more we sweat in peace, the less we bleed in war’ is ever relevant today. And this sweat is ‘training’. Training plays a vital role in the life of any aviator, more so of a combat flier. Only the best trained emerge to take their place in front line fighter squadrons in defence of the country. These consummately trained pilots are the human mainstay of air power of the country. Associated costs must be well managed, with a rational balance between simulator time and actual flying training.

3. Concern for aircraft accidents needs no emphasis. Various studies in the IAF have revealed nearly 45% accidents are due to Human Error Aircrew (HE (A)) and 45% accidents occur due to Technical Defects (TD).

4. Another revelation of (TD) Technical Defect Accidents is that majority of technical defect accidents in fighters, hepters and trainer fleet are only on those aircraft (90%) which are serviced or produced under license or are produced indigenously by HAL –(Mig-21, Mig-27, Jaguar, Chetak, Cheeta helicopters and Kiran and HPT-32 trainers) the reason for these high rates of technical defect accidents have been highlighted in various forums or inquires.

5. The story of HPT-32 has been a victim of this public sector lethargy in a monopolistic industry. HPT-32 was supposed to be an improved version of old HT-(2) (produced in late 50% early 60’s). HPT-32 (produced in early 1985) has had its inherent problem of engine oil system. The maneuvers required a fool proof engine. Rather than improving the engine IAF decided to eliminate some of the maneuvers (hammer stall/inverted flying etc) to ensure better engine reliability. Even that has failed.

6. HPT-32 is a “Basic flying Trainer”. Where in a pilots confidence level in this profession has to be built. A machine not technically sound does break the basic requirement of confidence building into a nighmare and fear. At the training stage we need, “Reliability, Versatility, Maneuverability, Quality and high Confidence level of the operations. All appearing to be shattering. HAL does not have any accountability to offer. We have to shed this “Captive customer “policy of the Government and look elsewhere. Time has come to look for a “Turboprop” basic trainer elsewhere to restore the confidence of the user till HAL comes out well in all spheres of “Reliability, Versatility Maneuverability and Quality to restore the confidence of the user.

7. Considering the IAF is to induct some 600 + new generation combat aircraft in the next 10-15 years, the flying training platforms need to be of contemporary technology, with glass cockpits, simulated sensors etc. so as to prepare fledgling pilots most cost-effectively for operational flying of advanced combat aircraft.

8. We need to establish world class training facilities like the one at Flight Safety International. “Pan Am Academy” in USA.

9. Simulators provide solid foundation to a pilot to attain high professional standards.

Firstly- to fly the aircraft to its ultimate limits thus develop a total confidence in the machine.

Secondly- when a budding pilot is able to handle the aircraft (on simulators) to its ultimate limits builds his own confidence level to utmost capacity.

10. The training has to develop in the three stages:

(a) Simulators
(b) Basic Trainer ( A turbo )
(c) Intermediate Jet Trainer

Either HAL is to provide or we should explore International market. Def Expo 2010 gave enough of exposure. “South Korea”, “Germany”, Italy and Spain have adequacy in the field. We should set the target beginning of 2013 have all this.

May be the older generation of the IAF did not appreciate this well enough the new generation of commanders must change and accept this new environment.

Air Marshal Ashok Goel (Retd)

Ms. Ritika Sabharwal

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