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BBC Series - Fighter Pilots

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BBC Series - Fighter Pilots

Old 25th Oct 2015, 00:29
  #81 (permalink)  
 
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Brian, as Courtenay says CFS mandate that instructors carrying out initial instruction on OCUs should be QFIs although for a long time due to a shortage of CFS trained instructors they have had to use FIs who are locally trained experienced pilots. It is a very valid argument that instructors teaching on a ME type do not need to have a background in EFT as the jobs are quite dissimilar & especially so with the newer fly-by-wire sidestick types where there can be no 'follow me through' stuff, but CFS is the only formal venue the RAF has for instructor training. It is also true that EFT, BFT & AFT are good places to learn instructional skills that transfer across to the OCUs but a QFI also needs to have considerable experience on the ME type before he can instruct on it, I have seen what can happen if someone is rushed into OCU instruction before they are competent on type. FIs generally have that level of experience already even if they lack the instructional training which can be rather sparse & once they get their initial qualification they are rather left to their own devices as there is no specific pathway for improvement unlike within CFS with its B2 - B1 - A2 progression.

We have no equivalent to the civil TRI & FIs are type specific, once you move to a new ac you cease to be an instructor although it's obviously easier to become an FI again on the new type with a previous instructional background. This was what the new QPI qualification was meant to address but that's all rather fallen apart. Some form of TRI type of qualification would be a good thing & recognise the valuable job done by the non-QFIs but it should come with a recognised pathway of developmental training rather than just an annual check of competency by STANEVAL.

We seem to have drifted a long way from the original theme into the territory of the military QFI thread! The second episode of Fighter Pilot was on TV during my first visit to OASC at Biggin Hill although I saw very little of it from my place outside the door so packed was the TV room.
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Old 25th Oct 2015, 01:13
  #82 (permalink)  
 
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Originally Posted by ExRAFRadar
I've worked with plenty of people with degrees that don't know their arse from their elbow.
Not wishing to detract from the more serious point on your post there, I could not help but think "better than sitting around here on our elbows."

Between leaving the RAF and running away from life to retirement in France, I worked for a number of years at the Open University. As a result of working with some scarily clever people I have to say that I would trust them to build the UK's new nuclear power stations, but I would doubt they could tie their own shoelaces or work out which way to sit on a toilet.
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Old 25th Oct 2015, 01:30
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See the current CapComp for an early school photograph of those "scarily clever people".
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Old 25th Oct 2015, 02:49
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Indeed, one of them has trained a blackbird to perch on his nose.
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Old 25th Oct 2015, 08:43
  #85 (permalink)  
 
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I always thought that CFS mandating that the initial flying exercises of the ME OCU be delivered by a QFI was largely indicative of their lack of understanding of this particular training task. They were not really interested that the simulator training (maybe 15 or so 4-hour exercises) was being delivered by a non-QFI, but wanted a QFI for the on-aircraft work. This didn't seem to be based on any analysis of course content, but more on a dogmatic policy that pre-CQT airborne training must be delivered by a QFI. I contend that fails to recognise that the simulator exercises form the core part of the course and instruction delivered at this stage is critical. If QFI experience is really necessary, it is hard to see why it is not also required for the simulator phase.

At best, the CFS policy can be seen as outdated in that it regards the flight simulator as something akin to a cockpit procedures trainer (like the old JPIT), ie an intermediate stage between ground-school and the "serious" part of the course. At worst, it could be seen as being designed to preserve the role of the QFI on the front--line, cleverly limited in scope to numbers that they may actually be able to provide.

Most "RAF Fighter Pilots" will at some stage of their career receive instruction from a TRI, both in a simulator and during a base-training detail, so this is still a relevant discussion!
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Old 25th Oct 2015, 09:24
  #86 (permalink)  
 
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In the days before the VC10 OCU was destroyed by meddling careerist thrusters, OCU instructors taught everything - groundschool, simulator, flying and they also did routine squadron checking. Very efficiently. Not many first tourists were posted to the VC10, but the policy for those who were, was that their instructors had to be QFIs, not FIs.

After the OCU had been destroyed, groundschool was taught by whoever was posted there, without any instructional background except the GIT course. Unfortunately, at one point these people also did some of the early simulator training, which meant that by the time we took over for the flying phase, a lot of bad habits and poor training had to be corrected... The system then changed (fortunately), so we then did an integrated simulator and flight training course taught by flying instructors - and certainly didn't use the full motion simulators as glorified procedure trainers...

When I flew with non-'Q'FIs, I found that with some there were large gaps in their theoretical knowledge and even their RT was often out of date - e.g. replying 'Roger' to a clearance. Lots of little things in their instructional manner would have benefited from CFS standardisation. But others were absolutely fine.

When I started instructing at the OCU, many of the Jurassic Park AT QFIs were C-to-I and hadn't been required to renew their CFS cats on the VC10. Apparently that was to avoid friction with the non-'Q'FIs. After some discussion, the AAR Flt Cdr pointed out that there was a requirement for QFIs to hold formal CFS cats after a few months of C-to-I, so the old trucky policy was overturned.

The civil world trains pilots with rather more flying hours under their belt by the time they start their Type Rating courses. They will also have held a CPL/IR with ATPL knowledge and MCC / JOC; their TRTO course will equip them for the minimum level of knowledge and skill necessary to operate in the right hand seat on groundhog day flights, learning their job through osmosis and experience. Hence when things go wrong, you're likely to see an AF447 accident. Whereas the RAF receives pilots with less experience and vastly less theoretical knowledge, but requires them to cope with a much wider range of flying tasks. Thus a 'TRI' wouldn't really suffice, although a TRE could cover annual OPC style checks, I guess.
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Old 25th Oct 2015, 16:28
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Quotes from BEagle

"The civil world trains pilots with rather more flying hours under their belt by the time they start their Type Rating courses."
150 hours would be fairly typical. On arrival at first OCU, what would the equivalent RAF figure be?

"their [civil pilots] TRTO course will equip them for the minimum level of knowledge and skill necessary to operate in the right hand seat on groundhog day flights..."
Presume you must be referring to third-world and/or shoestring operators?

"Hence when things go wrong, you're likely to see an AF447 accident."
Sweeping statement, and the problem to which it refers results partly from a level of automation not present in RAF cockpits until the Voyager. Also, RAF transport flights generally do not demand the unruffled experience expected by the fare-paying, travelling public - on which commercial pilots' jobs depend. That is not to say that the airlines must not amend their SOPs to encourage the practising of basic flying skills on the line - subject to safety constraints.

"Whereas the RAF receives pilots with less experience and vastly less theoretical knowledge, but requires them to cope with a much wider range of flying tasks."
Agreed, though not about the theoretical knowledge. I imagine that an RAF pilot arriving at first OCU would have comparable knowledge to that of a civil cadet pilot starting his/her first type conversion.

My experience as a line captain of RAF pilots coming into a mid-sized jet airline as co-pilots from the late 1970s was that their theoretical knowledge and handling skills were high, as were their leadership qualities. Their ability and motivation in adapting to the limitations of the right-hand seat on an airline operation were variable, and not easily predictable. For example, one guy off Lightnings on to the One-Elevens was unassuming, supportive and conscientious in a role that must have seemed pretty tame.

Last edited by Chris Scott; 25th Oct 2015 at 19:20. Reason: Quote italicised.
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Old 25th Oct 2015, 22:03
  #88 (permalink)  
 
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Also, RAF transport flights generally do not demand the unruffled experience expected by the fare-paying, travelling public - on which commercial pilots' jobs depend.
Chris Scott (no relation): really? Do we just wang it around any old how without a thought to our self-loading freight? Many of the civil flights I've flown on recently as a pax have been 'ruffled' to the point of concern particularly the landings, of my last 6 flights only one has been to a standard that I would assess as 'good' on one of the checks I conduct (a BA Capt's by the way). In theatre on ops the pax may have to accept a slightly lower standard of comfort but otherwise we most certainly do pride ourselves on smooth flying even if we don't obsess about 'light chop' & 'any ride reports?' like our civil brethren but then my ac shakes & rattles roughly equivalent to light chop anyway so we tend not to notice it too much. Smooth & 'unruffled' operating is most certainly not the unique preserve of civil airlines.
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Old 26th Oct 2015, 11:24
  #89 (permalink)  
 
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Quote from me (emphasis added):
"... RAF transport flights generally do not demand the unruffled experience expected by the fare-paying, travelling public - on which commercial pilots' jobs depend."

Quote from Ken Scott:
"Do we just wang it around any old how without a thought to our self-loading freight?"

Well Ken, presumably not, and I wasn't trying to hit a nerve! Am sure the vast majority of all transport pilots take personal pride in the smoothness of their operation, as well as its efficiency.

The point I was trying to make is that at some stage in airlines - probably when digital AFSs and FADECs started to become the norm in the 1990s - airline flight-ops departments (no doubt influenced considerably by the bean counters) started to discourage or, in some cases, ban crews from practising the old skills of manual throttle and "manual" handling (with and without FD).

99% of the time today's automatics do as smooth and efficient a job as the most proficient pilot can in these areas. And they can do it hour after hour. That couldn't have been said for the various jets (including the VC10) I flew in the 1970s and most of the 1980s. So any resistance to the increasing pressure put on us not to interrupt the smooth, fuel-saving automatics was hard to justify.

Those of us who could remember handling big jets with manual thrust on long sectors when the (single) auto-pilot was u/s or hiccupping were well aware that the new generation of pilots - particularly the civil-trained ones - lacked comparable handling experience, and that this policy might be creating problems for the future. But few of us would have predicted what happened on AF447, the most extreme example so far.
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Old 26th Oct 2015, 15:37
  #90 (permalink)  
 
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I worked at a large US airline training school in the mid-90's, with a host of very experienced dudes, including ex-USN, USAF and RAF pilots, a DC-10 test pilot, retired airline training captains, etc. I can assure you we all saw the likes of AF447 coming a mile off, but nobody in authority wanted to hear it. The aim became solely that a pilot could reproduce the required actions at the required tests, instead of being able to reproduce them airborne when necessary when things got tricky, which is what the tests were supposed to test.
Then they cut the test requirements too.
Then they just prayed the systems wouldn't fail except in ways that fitted standard drills.
Then they just prayed the systems wouldn't fail at all.
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Old 26th Oct 2015, 15:51
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Chris: I'm not convinced that your correct identification of excessive automation in civil aviation justifies your statement that it therefore demands a less ruffled experience for the fare paying passenger. Increasingly the new ME types being procured by the RAF are following the automation trend (Voyager, Atlas etc), even the C130J was designed to fly A to B on strat tasks with the autopilot flying but the difference is that we still put an emphasis on routine training alongside tasks & we don't have to justify to an accountant why we flew a procedure manually for practice when a straight-in ILS would've got us in 5 mins earlier for a 200 kg less fuel burn. Whether that will stay the same into the future if 'civil best practice' gets adopted with enthusiasm as a means to reduce costs & given the ever increasing pressure not to fly around for training at the secret Oxfordshire airbase in case it upsets someone who thought that buying their bargain house next to an airfield was getting something for nothing.

As the Air France accident showed the loss of basic flying skills on the altar of reduced cost & profitability can have consequences. Hopefully the demands of military flying will justify training beyond the bare minimum well into the future.
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Old 26th Oct 2015, 16:54
  #92 (permalink)  
 
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Hi Ken,

Agreed! What I'm saying is that we in the airlines got it wrong from about the 1990s, due mainly to an obsession with automation-led efficiencies to which the military were not as susceptible. Now that your large transports have similar technology, and the bean counters have taken control, I hope that the RAF will nevertheless resist falling into a similar trap.
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Old 26th Oct 2015, 17:11
  #93 (permalink)  
 
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When I went through the VC10 OCU as a student in 1983/4, we were given a sound and very comprehensive groundschool....

Then some new ex-Victor Stn Cdr turned up and dictated that people didn't need to know as much, so ordered the groundschool course to be shortened. Successive reviews chopped more and more out of the course, so that when I came back in 1993, the groundschool course was a bare shadow of its former self. For example, HF radio was dismissed as "It's a radio, you turn it on and dial up the frequency" - nothing at all about day/night propagation, SSB or available networks.....

We had a student who had done his AFT through the Seneca CPL/IR course at Prestwick as an experiment. In all areas of theoretical knowledge he was streets ahead of his METS colleagues......
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Old 26th Oct 2015, 18:18
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Beagle, there is a strong argument in my opinion for putting all METS students through Oxford instead of getting 45 Sqn to teach them basic asymmetric & NDB holding. They could complete all the theory & come out with a frozen ATPL (bonded for x years for the total cost, say 100k) & then go to 45 Sqn for a pre-OCU cse covering LL Nav, formation etc, they could even get streamed & do stuff appropriate to their type (flying in circles for Shadow & E3s etc). This would help to prevent all those people doing their ATPL studies in their early 30s & then PVRing to make use of it as they would only need to wait for their 40/18 point to collect their licence. It would also stop all those questions about training equivalence between mil & civil pilots.

No chance of it happening though as the monster that is MFTS will perpetuate the current system, only teaching asymmetric on a Phenom (is it even noticeable?) will hardly prepare a student for a Shadow let alone an Atlas. More importantly of course, you have to consider the jobs for the VSOs to slide into at Ascent when they retire....
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Old 7th Nov 2015, 19:11
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Although I feel that this series was pretty accurate for its time, I think, on reflection, that it really reflects training up to AFTS. After that, the detail is lost. Maybe, the program should have been limited to that point? The later parts are confused and disjointed, IMO.

OAP
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Old 15th Nov 2015, 14:16
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Thread creep

After a focussed beginning, this thread wandered off at Prune speed - thanks for dragging it back.

I was on one of the later courses on 3 Squadron at LOO - we didn't feature on TV but the "famous flap" photo in the book had us posed to look interesting. I think the piranha in the tank in the student crewroom were keener than we were.

After completing my 140 hour LOO course, I joined a nav course at Finningley on the same course as RL - as part of our Officer Training, he arranged a visit to the BBC through Colin Strong. Seemed like a nice chap.

I'm happy to take most of the credit for not making it as pilot, but my abiding memory of my year on 3 Squadron at Linton was of several instructors on my flight whose instructional ability nowhere near matched their egos. I think that was perhaps just a function of system at the time though.
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Old 15th Nov 2015, 15:38
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Who was RL ??

Arc
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