The SA Air Force will soon decide on the lease of up to ten side-by-side seat training aircraft for initial basic flying training at the Central Flying School.
Air Force chief Lt Gen Carlo Gagiano says he wants students to have side-by-side instruction for the first 60 hours of their flying career.
The defence department last year told Parliament there was a combination of factors that has lead the SA Air Force to believe that it would be beneficial if a number of side-by-side trainers could be procured.
“Firstly, most Air Forces have recognized the benefit of using a more basic side-by-side training aircraft for the initial phases of pilot training before exposing students to more advanced tandem high performance training aircraft.
“Not only is the learning environment less intimidating and more conducive to effective learning, these aircraft are cheaper to operate,” the department said in a written reply to a question.
The Air chief amplifies that sitting side-by-side allows the instructor to better monitor the pupil. “Also when you train people they get extremely tense.”
In a side-by-side configuration it is easier for an instructor to spot this problem and correct it than in a tandem design. “If you`re that tense, you can`t fly. You have to be relaxed. To [learn to] do that in the first 60 hours is good.”
The Parliamentary reply, tabled in June, suggested 12 such aircraft “would be sufficient to satisfy the training requirement”. It added the “aircraft cost between RM2 and RM3 each”, which “would translate to RM24 to RM36 for the fleet.”
But last week Gagiano said the intent now “is to lease them”.
“We don`t hace the capital to buy, even though we know lease is the more expensive option. What we are thinking of is lease-to-buy.”
Gagiano says the SAAF will shortly conduct a study on the most appropriate aircraft.