This fall, the USAF's
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
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."
[ANN Salutes Megan Orton, Air Education and Training Command Public