Cadets now get more flying hours with the induction of the advanced basic trainer

The induction of Pilatus PC-7 basic trainer six months ago has brought a qualitative change in the training of future guardians of Indian skies, Air Vice-Marshal V.R. Chaudhari, Deputy Commandant and in-charge of Training at Air Force Academy said.

While cadets used to get about 25 hours of flying training earlier, induction of Pilatus has increased this to about 60 flying hours. At the end of the basic training, the cadets are now completing a total of 14 hours of solo flying as compared to just one hour earlier.

Bridging the gap

“Induction of Pilatus aircraft has plugged a vital gap in the basic flying training of cadets and with the presence of advanced navigation aids in the aircraft, teaching the basics of flying has become much easier and safer,” Mr. Chaudhari said. Pilatus has features like glass (digital) cockpit, Instrument Landing System, and advanced communications systems.

The Swiss-made Pilatus PC-7 Mark-II aircraft was inducted in Indian Air Force (IAF) to fill the gap created by the grounding of the indigenous HPT-32 basic training aircrafts in June 2009. During the intervening period, the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) manufactured jet trainer Kiran Mark-II was used to teach basic flying skills.

“Ideally, training of a fighter pilot should progress from turbo propeller aircrafts to slow jet trainers and then to fast jet trainers. For this reason teaching basic flying with Kiran Mark-II was difficult as it is a slow jet trainer,” Mr. Chaudhari explained.

With induction of Pilatus trainer, the Kiran Mark-II aircrafts have been sent back to Hakimpet Air Force Station to be used in the second stage of flying training for fighter pilots.

However, this equilibrium may not last long as the fast aging Kiran Mark-II aircrafts would be decommissioned soon.

“Kirans may have to be grounded in about four years and a suitable Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) should be inducted to replace them,” Mr. Chaudhari observed.

A total of 75 Pilatus PC-7 aircrafts are being procured from the Swiss company in which 60 will be positioned in AFA and 15 will be used in training flying instructors in Tambaram, Chennai. AFA, till date, has about 28 Pilatus aircrafts.

Passing-out parade

About 203 trainees from various branches of IAF will graduate from AFA and receive commissioning from present IAF chief Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne on December 14. Of the 203 cadets, 37 are female cadets. The final Passing Out Parade will also contain a colourful fly-past and acrobatics by different aircraft.

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