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Introductory flight training undergoing changes

Posted 10/21/2005   Updated 8/28/2006 Email story   Print story


by Megan Orton
Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

10/21/2005 - RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AETCNS) -- This fall, the Introductory Flight Training program, which prepares pilot candidates for specialized undergraduate pilot training will decrease from the 50 hours now required to 25 hours. This transitional program will bridge the change from the current IFT program, which is conducted at civilian flight schools around the United States, to a new program called Initial Flight Screening, which will be conducted at a single site.

IFT used civilian flight schools around the United States to provide flight training and screening for potential Air Force pilots. The schools used their own training techniques and syllabus, within Federal Aviation Administration guidelines, to educate pilot candidates with the 50-hour program, and students received their private pilot's license upon graduation. Airmen who could not physically or mentally handle flying, or found they did not have an aptitude for flying, were screened out at this introductory stage. Those who completed the program and got their licenses went on to SUPT.

The IFS program will also screen the Air Force's future pilots, but the new program will be conducted at a centralized location and will feature a SUPT-like training environment. IFS flying operations at the single site are scheduled to begin Oct. 1, 2006. In the meantime, IFT will use a 25-hour program that the flight schools will conduct, using an AETC-developed syllabus.

"There are several good reasons to allow civilian flight schools to use a 25-hour syllabus now," said Wayne Mudge, program manager for the IFT and Navigator Introductory Flight Training programs. "We still will not have close military oversight of the training at the flight schools, but the 25-hour syllabus is a step in the right direction. Candidates will finish the new program more quickly, they will learn to use an AETC syllabus, and most importantly, they'll be better prepared for SUPT."

This 25-hour program, entitled IFS for Civilian Part 61/141 Flight Schools, is scheduled to begin Nov. 1 and will slowly evolve to the IFS program that will begin next October.

The Air Force Academy began conducting a 25-hour program, Academy Flight Screening, on June 6. As IFS matures, these two programs will mirror each other.

There has been a debate over these types of flight screening courses for almost 90 years, virtually since the start of the Air Service. Mr. Mudge said centralized versus decentralized, civilian versus military, and screening versus training have been considerations in how to best introduce flying to pilot and combat systems officer candidates and reduce attrition rates.

"What we're doing with this new program that we call initial flight screening, is changing back to a process that better trained and better equipped our pilot candidates," Mr. Mudge said. "It will give every pilot and CSO candidate the same basic airmanship training in a 25-hour course."

IFS will not only take a more military-like approach to the program, but add rigor to the curriculum and eliminate some redundancies that occur between IFT and SUPT. CSOs will also be included in the 25-hour program, as their training now encompasses more aspects of aviation and combat operations.

The biggest challenge, Mr. Mudge said, will be IFS students will fly solo much sooner than they did in IFT. The role of the supervisor will also become more important in IFS because the program is shorter and more intense.

At first, students who already have the private pilot's license will not attend the course, he said, but within two years, every pilot candidate and CSO candidate will go through IFS.

"We're going to start small and grow at an appropriate rate," Mr. Mudge said. "The bottom line is we want better trained aviators, and we think that we can do it with the IFS program."

3/15/2011 4:30:36 PM ET
IFS was a program that me and my team worked for 5 years. Adriana Gonzalez Keisha Williams Bianca Farber and Renita James. Honorable mention Leonard Jefferson and Jeff Mitchell who came closer to the end of the program going single site. We learned alot and 19AF will always be my second home.
Tia Fish, Wright-Patterson AFB
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