The South African Air Force is seeking ways to reduce the failure rate of pupil pilots. At present three out of every ten students that start pilot training fail to graduate.
Air Force chief Lt Gen Carlo Gagiano wants this to drop to one out of ten or less.
Gagiano says his service is upping the standard and increasing the size of its recruiting pool.
“We need specific types of people, people with maths and science, people with the right skills and passion. Whether you`re a pilot or technician, you need that grounding… There are a certain strata of people, regardless of race and gender, who have what it takes. … [They are] a specific group, and we need to find them. They are the pool you select from. If you select dicey ones, they are going to fail. We need to get the best ones so we make sure our failure rate is not greater than 10%. At the moment is 30%, Gagiano says.
Democratic Alliance defence spokesman Rafeek Shah last week said only 42 out of 68 pupil pilots have recently graduated and just four out of 12 navigators.
Meanwhile Gagiano says the SAAF`s pilot base “is improving”.
“Obviously we continue to lose pilots when their contracts come to an end, but it is improving
We have sufficient instructors now to move on.
“The pupil pilots that will get wings now in December are the first who will go straight from wings school to Hawk. We`ve stopped this thing of treading water…,” he adds.
Gagiano recently told Unofficial SAAF website editor Dean Wingrin that a cadre of Zimbabwean pilot instructors and technicians at the Central Flying School has made a difference to pilot training in the SAAF.
“The same six AFZ (Air Force of Zimbabwe) pilots and ten technicians have been at the CFS since they arrived in 2006.
“They are very disciplined and professional pilots and are a huge asset to the SAAF. They will be rotated at the end of 2008 for a similar number of new pilot instructors and technicians,” Gagiano says. “Four SAAF pupil pilots recently gained their wings in Botswana.”
Gagiano adds that the SAAF now also trains personnel from elsewhere in Africa. “…we currently train members from Rwanda, Lesotho, Malawi and Botswana in many musterings,” he says.