10-Feb-2017 Source: Israeli Air Force
The IAF Flight Academy training programs for transport and combat helicopter pilots have been united into one. From now on, the IAF’s helicopter pilots will be divided between the transport and combat helicopter divisions upon graduation from the Flight Academy and not in the beginning of the advanced stage of their training as they were before. Until now, the transport division cadets flew the “Yanshuf” (Blackhawk) while the combat helicopter division’s training program was performed on the “Sayfan” (Bell 206).
A Quantum Leap
“The decision to unite the advanced stage of helicopter flight training and perform it on the ‘Yanshuf’ resulted from the assumption that graduates would graduate at a higher level after completing the new program. In addition, we, as a flight academy, will be able to accurately foresee the appropriate integration path for them according to their skills, performance, character and preferences”, said Lt. Col. Matan, Commander of the Helicopter Division in the IAF Flight Academy. He added that the gap between the “Sayfan” and the “Peten” (AH-64 Apache) and “Saraf” (AH-64D Apache Longbow) was large and made it difficult to evaluate the level of the combat helicopter division graduates. “We faced a situation in which cadets flew an outdated platform and transitioned to a very complex helicopter with operational systems, night vision systems and a pair of engines”.
During the advanced stage of helicopter flight training, the cadets learn the basics of helicopter flight. The instructors are currently conducting a program that will combine both worlds for the cadets. “The first stage of training checks who can be a helicopter pilots and in the advanced stage we teach the cadets how to become helicopter pilots”, explained Lt. Col. Matan. “When the cadets will complete their training and arrive at the operational combat helicopter squadrons, they will have better foundations, because among other things, the ‘Yanshuf’ and ‘Apache’ helicopter have similar characteristics”.
Soon: A New Instruction Helicopter
The helicopter division’s flight instructors are both transport and combat helicopter pilots, so the cadets meet instructors from both divisions and are exposed to both worlds. “The advanced combat helicopter training squadron will be re-opened in about three years upon the arrival of a new instruction helicopter”, added Lt. Col. Matan.
The new helicopter is expected to arrive in 2020 and will be followed by the establishment of a designated simulator and the development of an instruction concept for helicopter pilots.