The South African Air Force (SAAF) is seeking an air school to provide prospective pupil pilots between 60 and 70 hours of side-by-side ab initio flying experience.
The tender is the result of the successful outsourcing of helicopter pilot training.
The SAAF has given schools until Wednesday to respond to tender CPSC/B/
PC/004/09 published in Government Tender Bulletin 2586 on June 12.
The winning bidder will start work next month and will provide services to the SAAF until December next year.
Air Force chief Lieutenant General Carlo Gagiano has been seeking a side-by-side trainer for the service for some time. In June 2007 the defence department said the SAAF was looking at acquiring 12 aircraft worth R2-3 million each.
The SAAF is reluctant to acquire new aircraft so soon after receiving new fighter aircraft and helicopters and Gagiano was keen on leasing the aircraft as this would be an operational rather than capital expense.
But a study found leasing would be more expensive than buying.
The study found that the use of a light aircraft would be much cheaper for gaining initial flying experience than the continued use of the SAAF`s Pilatus PC-7 Mk II Astra.
There would also be better interaction between instructor and student when seated side-by-side. The Astra has pupil sitting in front of the instructor with the two separated by an instrument panel.
In an interview in late last year Gagiano said that a User Requirement Specification had just been approved and that it was hoped to have the trainer operating by the middle of 2009.
“The aircraft must be light and simple to fly, with student pilots flying an initial period of between 60 and 70 hours before progressing to the PC-7 Mk II Astra. This will result in a cheaper total training package and the side-by-side seating will allow huge growth in learning compared to the tandem seating in the Astra,” Gagiano said.