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inews - 'RAF admits ‘urgent’ need to solve shortage of trained pilots''

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inews - 'RAF admits ‘urgent’ need to solve shortage of trained pilots''

Old 14th Jan 2023, 22:16
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LJ, Yes, I understand all that - ‘‘twas ever thus even when we were training huge numbers of aircrew compared to now, but do we really need to pay external consultants to design an IT system to explain how our own system works to us?

Last edited by Timelord; 14th Jan 2023 at 22:41.
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Old 14th Jan 2023, 22:43
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Over 40 years ago, Phillip Broughton published an article “How to Win at Wordsmanship” (Newsweek magazine, 1968). He suggested a Systematic Buzz Phrase Projector, a three-column table with 30 words (see below). The use is simple. Think of any random three-digit number, and then select the corresponding buzzword from each column. For example, number 911 produces "balanced organizational flexibility" a phrase that can be dropped into virtually any report or presentation with a flavour of decisive knowledgeable authority. The claim was that “No one will have the remotest idea of what you're talking about, but the important thing is that they're not about to mention it.”

(Was it the first buzzword bingo?)
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Old 14th Jan 2023, 22:48
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That’s the thing that people still aren’t understanding. The external contractors aren’t “explaining how our own system works”, we’re telling them how it works and they are building the RAF a system to help track and manage it all.

How did we do it in the past? Chaos and sheer volume of numbers. That’s the snag, as we got smaller then relying on that means that we need to be more measured as there isn’t any fat in a system that trains such small numbers and a demand to cut out waste/overlap. That is also the other snag in the constant demands to return flying training completely to Service control - even if we had the money, we wouldn’t have the people (Aircrew and Engineers) to do it in house. It would take 5-10 years to train up the volume of people to spring the more experienced folks to be the instructors. It’s easy to axe fleets and people, but hellishly expensive and time consuming to build back up again.

That’s the thing too, the RAF has been shrinking since the end of WW2. It’s easy to manage a system when you have excess numbers to rely upon. The wheels really came off the wagon in SDSR10 when the RAF decided it had too many Pilots and sacked 170 students. Then did not recruit any for 3 years or so. Then for SDSR15 the RAF was asked to grow for the first time in about 70 years, and with a new flying training system that replaced just about every type save for Hawk T2 and Avenger in a 2-3 year period. Then you add the fact that the system was designed and catered for the reduced numbers of SDSR10 and you have a perfect storm brewing. Add to it all the complexities mentioned above, and the fidelity now needed due to the small numbers, then you get what we have right now.

Interestingly, the issue last summer was nothing to do with UKMFTS and it was all about an inability to absorb the excess numbers being sent to be trained on the front line. That was a lot to do with COVID when far fewer left than planned and left students waiting a couple of years for an OCU. Couple that to highly successful rejoining program that also filled the front line and you get the picture. Which is why bold statements can be made by the higher-ups about “operational effectiveness not being affected” - because in a lot of areas it’s full! But then again, with small numbers, especially an all single-seat combat air force then losing a handful or 2 of Pilots in relatively short order can tip you quickly into desperate times again.

So we really can’t do it the way we used to - the current situation proves that!


Last edited by Lima Juliet; 14th Jan 2023 at 23:02.
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Old 14th Jan 2023, 22:53
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Originally Posted by Lima Juliet
How do you know it doesn’t link into STARs, JPA, TAFMIS, etc…? Also, how do you know what it actually does when the tool, to the best of my knowledge, hasn’t been rolled out for use? How many IT gurus do the 3 Services have laying around to run a project like this - to plan, develop, code, deliver and then support a software tool like the one proposed in the link?

I would offer that part of the problem is that for years we have used whiteboards, spreadsheets and magnetic tiles to plan stuff like this. Is it any wonder that all 3 Services end up going feast-famine-feast with their training pipelines if we continue to allow a bunch of mates huddled around a planning board/computer trying to cuff it? (I know how pants that is as I’ve been there).

I, for one, think that having an ‘end to end’ planning tool that looks at a through life pipeline of individuals - recruiting, basic training (Cranwell or Halton), flying training (and the various pipelines), the myriad of extra courses (SERE, RAFCAM, HF&CRM training, centrifuge, etc…), then OCU. But it doesn’t need to stop there either - what about all of the Phase 3 training - IODs, IMLC/AMLC, ASWS and MAA courses. Wouldn’t it be neat to have a singular planning resource for everyone to use and for everyone to see where they and what is coming up?

I would have loved to have had that instead of a whiteboard, some coloured pens and tiles and a bottle of meths! (Which, at times I felt like drinking!)
I admire your confidence in the ability of a system to accurately predict future events. Should such a system exist, I would be inclined to use it to predict the winner of the grand national, do the football pools, predict the lottery numbers etc. The defence budget would be much higher.
Back on planet earth, history tells us that the more systems are interlinked, the more the consultants and the IT contractors benefit. And still the future tends to confound us. Was it not just last month the Bank of England were telling us the recession would last 2 years ( despite the fact they didn’t see it coming) and now it turns out we aren’t in a recession at all ( at least not yet)?
Working out how many people you need to recruit to have sufficient numbers of pilots to fly our diminishing fleet of aircraft is not rocket science.
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Old 14th Jan 2023, 22:56
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Originally Posted by falcon900
I admire your confidence in the ability of a system to accurately predict future events. Should such a system exist, I would be inclined to use it to predict the winner of the grand national, do the football pools, predict the lottery numbers etc. The defence budget would be much higher.
Back on planet earth, history tells us that the more systems are interlinked, the more the consultants and the IT contractors benefit. And still the future tends to confound us. Was it not just last month the Bank of England were telling us the recession would last 2 years ( despite the fact they didn’t see it coming) and now it turns out we aren’t in a recession at all ( at least not yet)?
Working out how many people you need to recruit to have sufficient numbers of pilots to fly our diminishing fleet of aircraft is not rocket science.
Especially as the cost of some extra pilots every year would take about 30 years to exceed the cost of the system to prevent it happening, even if it worked!
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Old 14th Jan 2023, 23:06
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Mate, you need to check your maths…

The annual capitation rate for a junior aircrew mate is in excess of £100k. So you would pay off £480k if it saved buying over 4 of your so-called “extra pilots” in a single year. That doesn’t even account for the training cost of a single Pilot either, which is well in excess of £480k for just one!

PS. We are in a recession! The Nov 22 figures confirmed that.


PPS. This system won’t predict anything, it will allow the folks that manage this to throw in scenarios and “what ifs” to see what effect they may have. Also, if there is a big change like an SDSR or IR, then it will allow them to understand its effects and then model some outcomes to try and mitigate things. It isn’t some sort of Gypsy with a crystal ball, it’s a management tool, but a complicated one with many variables.

Last edited by Lima Juliet; 14th Jan 2023 at 23:16.
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Old 14th Jan 2023, 23:58
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Originally Posted by Lima Juliet
This system won’t predict anything, it will allow the folks that manage this to throw in scenarios and “what ifs” to see what effect they may have. Also, if there is a big change like an SDSR or IR, then it will allow them to understand its effects and then model some outcomes to try and mitigate things. It isn’t some sort of Gypsy with a crystal ball, it’s a management tool, but a complicated one with many variables.

Sweet. In that case can we kill two birds with one stone and feed it the variables for the McCloud Remedy? We could have the new Pension Calculator ready to go in six weeks!
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Old 15th Jan 2023, 04:41
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Surely procurement and manning should go hand in hand, nothing these days tends to be off the shelf, if you order xyz flying Thrungebuckets, the into service date / delivery date will be measured in years.

Therefore you need to recruit and train those required to operate and service your Thrungebuckets plus a percentage for support, natural wastage and failure rates at the time the orders are put in.

Otherwise you will have Thrungebuckets stored all over the place without the manning to operate and maintain them which negates the point in ordering them in the first place.

We also need to address the haste in which we rush to scrap aircraft with perfectly good hours remaining on them to give the taxpayer a good return on their monies.

Far better would be to mothball the fleets as war reserves. Heck stick them out in the US desert if needed. Flogging off fleets like the Harrier was nonsensical when they could have been stored as a cost saving measure.

I would also bring back an RAF Reserve similar to the US National Guard where retired military pilots flying airlines etc would / could be kept current on service types in case of a national emergency.


​​​​​​…

Last edited by NutLoose; 15th Jan 2023 at 05:01.
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Old 15th Jan 2023, 05:15
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A never-ending vicious cycle. As already stated, feast, famine, feats, famine. Many well put forward ideas and reason why for. Unfortunately, it is the nature of the beast without any easy solution. Retention has a multitude of problems when successful, significantly stagnation of promotion, gaining experience etc. Mind you the lack of retaining experience brings its own issues. My first posting, one Flight had a FLGOFF as the most experienced driver. Nothing wrong there but he was on the way out after a bit over two years at the SQN.


Why did we join. Well, you get some very first-class training, fly some nice pieces of kit, are with likeminded people (with some questions with some fellow winged wonders being perhaps the selection system had some hiccups, yes, I was likely one of them) and get paid to do it. So, the question is why did you leave? and there is a number of reasons. Interestingly first time I departed was interviewed on why by a budding WGCDR writing a thesis on aircrew departures. Gave a number of reasons, hopefully he got an A. Had another interview on retaining pilots when the Army (2007 I believe) lost 7 odd QHI in one week. This was when civvy contractors where all the rage. These seven chaps departed on a Friday, returned to work in civvy clothes on a Monday with a 30% pay increase, with hours Monday to Friday with none of the extra gaff (mind you the extra gaff is fine if you are after that first or second or third star).

I am afraid it is the nature of the beast. A bit like a Stando. For those of us that have been in one Squadron for some time we get to see the amendments put in by the new Stando, and the next one and the next one until SOP'S etc are back to if not the original form close to it (a good reason to have experience in the Squadron to say, "we did that three amendments ago, let's not waste the paper"). The nature of the beast with the thrusting young Officer making his mark.

I believe the book Sky Guardians, Britian's Air Defence 1918-1983 published 1993, addressed the retention issue in one of the chapters.

There is no easy nor hard answer I believe.
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Old 15th Jan 2023, 05:38
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Originally Posted by Lima Juliet
But I agree, Mission Aircrew (WSO/WSOp) are just as important as the Pilots. Also, Engineers more than any other Branch/Profession/Trade are needed in support of the Aircrew and their aircraft. If those 2 fall over then you aren’t going anywhere!
I agree, and reminds me of when we were given Direct and Indirect Labour criteria to meet. ('Direct' being those who contributed directly to whatever your output was). It would be different in each domain, but the first time I came across it, in a workshop, it was generally 60/40. Just before I retired nearly two decades ago, in DPA we reckoned it was more like 10/90. If that. With the advent of consultants, it probably became 1/99! If that 1% goes sick, or ships out, you're snookered; because it takes 10 years to train a replacement. MoD has been 'fouling' for all those years trying to escape.

I recall in 2002 a Brigadier toppling at a programme's System Integration Plan, which simply called up the mandated Def Stan and applied it to that requirement. He let a 6-month contract on a consultant to find out what System Integration was in the first place. The Brigadier and consultant weren't even indirect labour, making no contribution whatsoever.
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Old 15th Jan 2023, 08:24
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Originally Posted by Lima Juliet
Total tripe woven into a MSM story again. The Boston Consulting Group contract is for RAF Digital and is not ‘advising’ on how to recruit, train and career manage Aircrew. They might help provide digital tools and suggest tweaks to management processes, but they certainly aren’t doing what iNews infers.

You’ll find the contract here: https://bidstats.uk/tenders/2022/W45/786301120 - linked within it is the SUR document: https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=h...f-ee61d917f267

It clearly states this is to deliver a modelling tool to help the RAF personnel better understand the problems and to be able to model various scenarios in advance - like a forecasting model. Here is a snippet from the above link:



So, yet again, this is more slack research by an editorial team who couldn’t even be bothered to do a 2 minute search on Google and read the links. More wrapping for next Friday’s fish and chips, I guess…
!ooks like they dipped into the BS Generator. https://www.atrixnet.com/bs-generator.html
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Old 15th Jan 2023, 08:29
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PILOT TRAINING/CAREERS EASY SOLUTION

Have an RAF/British Airways agreement something like this:

Train RAF pilots and give them say a 9 year contract.

Give qualified plots a free ATPL whilst in the RAF.

Allow pilots to leave easily after their 9 years and progress seamlessly to BA who would give them priority.

Keep them ‘on war reserve’ in case of need .

If the RAF had a surplus they could release pilots to BA early.

This would be a win /win solution - BA would gain as they always suffer from boom or bust requirements.

The RAF could train more pilots in the knowledge that they could shift them on to BA if not required.

RAF pilots would be happy because those who wish to keep flying could have a natural ‘career in flying ‘structure . Recruitment would improve.

Those pilots with career aspirations could stay in the RAF.

I believe that this system works well in other countries??



I think that this system was offered to the RAF many years ago but was turned down because of retention fears??
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Old 15th Jan 2023, 08:29
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S of S for Defence: “CAS, I gave you one job - sort out the pilot training pipeline”
CAS : “ Well sir, we’ve been thinking about it for 18 months and the answer is to commission a new IT system”

Sorry LJ, not convinced.
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Old 15th Jan 2023, 08:30
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But BA isn't a British Airline..................... its run by the Spanish
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Old 15th Jan 2023, 09:13
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Originally Posted by Lima Juliet
Mate, you need to check your maths…

The annual capitation rate for a junior aircrew mate is in excess of £100k. So you would pay off £480k if it saved buying over 4 of your so-called “extra pilots” in a single year. That doesn’t even account for the training cost of a single Pilot either, which is well in excess of £480k for just one!

PS. We are in a recession! The Nov 22 figures confirmed that.


PPS. This system won’t predict anything, it will allow the folks that manage this to throw in scenarios and “what ifs” to see what effect they may have. Also, if there is a big change like an SDSR or IR, then it will allow them to understand its effects and then model some outcomes to try and mitigate things. It isn’t some sort of Gypsy with a crystal ball, it’s a management tool, but a complicated one with many variables.
I stand by my maths. If you think Boston Consulting will only get paid £480k, dream on. And once they have “helped” to identify the causes of the problem and the solution, someone will need to be tasked and paid to come up with the inevitable “integrated” IT system, and history is not kind to those projects. Think years late and millions over budget.
As for the cost of training “surplus” pilots, the marginal per capita cost is nothing near £100k. In the early stages it would be little more than salary, albeit the fact we have outsourced much of the training, I accept the cost would be higher. It is of course only an incremental cost of it turns out you don’t need the pilots, and takes no account of the cost ( financial and other) of having too few.
Think about what the new system is being asked to do, and ask how it can be any more accurate than the present. The variables are many and, er, variable. The reason it is so hard is that we can’t predict the future, and if we chose to eliminate all margin for contingency, then we can quickly and easily find ourselves in the sort of situation we are in now.
let me try putting it another way: do you believe that a cheque to Boston Consulting for £480k is going to be the cost of fixing this?
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Old 15th Jan 2023, 09:23
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As for the question of whether we are in a recession, the economy GREW in the last figures published, which was not at all what was predicted. Blamed on us all enjoying the World Cup and spending to do so. Admittedly, the ONS usually adjust their figures at least once so we will need to wait for the final outcome, in so far as one can ever be determined. The fact that we seem to be dealing in decimals of 1% would also suggest that this is all rather faux science. A trip to TESCO is enough for most of us to understand what is going on and what to do about it.
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Old 15th Jan 2023, 09:27
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Asturias

No reason why this agreement couldn’t work well even if BA is owned by a Spanish consortium?
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Old 15th Jan 2023, 09:58
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Originally Posted by falcon900
As for the question of whether we are in a recession, the economy GREW in the last figures published, which was not at all what was predicted. Blamed on us all enjoying the World Cup and spending to do so.
I saw this on the news last night and my first thought was, the World Cup is usually held in the summer and you would normally have seen the same thing in July.
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Old 15th Jan 2023, 10:37
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There is a lot to be said for mahogany bob's suggestion ; if it is to be done outside, let it be done by people who routinely train large numbers of staff, fairly efficiently, and also could provide some useful incentives.

I found Lima Juliet's response / explanation to Timelord fascinating, hilarious and depressing - with all the 'creamies' and 'skimmies', 'swim lanes' etc. Thank you LJ. Reading that makes it depressingly clear why the system is having trouble. It is far too complicated - possibly because it has grown orgaincally over mnay years, perhaps for some it is 'hallowed' by tradition and of course has been messed up by efforts like the DSDRs. It needs simplifying and a complete reset. BA, whoever owns them, could do a darn fine job at it; their safety and their airworthiness record is fairly good...

It is not that complex. You are training people to fly, operate and maintain aircraft - OK 'air systems' to allow for the drones - and their various supporting services and processes. That's it. That's all. Most really large companies do this sort of thing routinely, some in-house, some contracted out. If they beahved like the RAF, they'd be long gone.
And no, 'security' considerations are not an excuse. Large multi nationals deal with both their own and others' commercial security matters as well as nations' security issues as necessary - routinely and generally well So forget that one. None of what the RAF does in terms of trainiing is particularly difficult of itself; it has just been allowed to grow admin and business BS for too long - mimicking so much the MoD appears to damage!
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Old 15th Jan 2023, 11:32
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There lay another complication. You aren’t just training people to fly - that’s a bit like comparing private drivers, F1 drivers, rally drivers, bus drivers and HGV drivers as just ‘drivers’. For military aircrew you have to train them to fly, to fight and to win in really complicated and disparate disciplines and with very different aircraft types - compared to Boeing’s and Airbus’s latest offerings for a very limited set of mission sets (freight hauling or passenger hauling). Layered on top of that you need them to become your commanders and so you have to train them to be Sqn Ldrs and above, or FS and MAcr, therefore they need to acquire management skills and for the Sqn Ldrs and above some ‘staff skills’ too.

As for Pilots wanting to go to BA or Virgin, that dynamic has also changed. The wise folks go into defence, which is where the serious money is, or as someone else already eluded, into some of the various contracts supporting defence with their aircrew (Draken, Ascent, Inspire, BAe, etc…). The terms and conditions of airline flying is certainly less attractive these days! I certainly would not consider going near the airlines, but I did in the late ‘90s when the terms and conditions were way more favourable.

Further, if you go back to 1918 then Trenchard insisted that all officers train as aircrew regardless of what job they go on to do. That was a wise move as not only would many only do a year or so of flying training, and then rarely touch a throttle or stick, they would learn the basics of the RAF’s business and more importantly the Service would have a large bucket of partially trained Pilots to pull from. Fast forward 100+ years and less than 10% have any experience of actual flying across the Regular and Reserve cadre. So you can see how trimming down the number that gain that valuable 2-3 years of flying training has also painted an air force of 31,750 into a corner.

Finally, Reserve Aircrew are fine but it takes money and people to do it; and lots of it if you want to replicate ANG levels of effort. The thing is, if you have to create a set of Reserve flying Sqns then you need to develop the same amount of effort and pay the same amount of time as developing a Regular sqn. That was the conclusion that was rightly realised in the 1950s when the flying RAuxAF Sqns were stood down. If you embed the Reserves on FL units then you create further management problems against taught flying programmes where the Reserve has to take priority over the Regular as they are only turning up that particular day of the week - meaning that the Regular gets booted off of the flying programme when the jet situation crumps. So really Reserve Aircrew can only make up a very small proportion of your effort otherwise they become significant disrupters and difficult to keep safe and competent.

PS. I could probably teach someone to “fly” a Typhoon safely in a couple of months. If I want to teach them to “fight” the Typhoon, effectively as part of a large multi-national COMAO, then it will take me the best part of 5 years! Even to fight as a singleton it will take me at least 3 years in all likelihood if you want them to be victorious over their adversary.
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