FIRST STUDENT FLIGHT ON ELEMENTARY FLYING TRAINING UNDER THE NEW UK MILITARY FLYING TRAINING SYSTEM
Yesterday, Monday 9 April 2018, Fg Off Jacob Weeks was the first student on the new Elementary Flying Training course to take his first flight in the new ‘Prefect’ aircraft at RAF Barkston Heath. His instructor was the course Boss, Wg Cdr Ian Bews.
Elementary Flying Training (EFT) is the start of the process to train future aircrew who will go on to fulfil operational roles. It is being conducted at RAF Cranwell and Barkston Heath using the Prefect (Grob 120TP) aircraft, a far more capable aircraft than its predecessor, the Tutor, not least in its ability to fly at up to 240kts. The modern aircraft also comes with the benefit of a modern glass cockpit and avionics suite.
EFT begins with lessons such as the theory of flight and builds the students understanding of how aircraft work and are operated. Through stages of increasingly capable ground-based training equipment, the students are introduced to the controls of the Prefect and flying until eventually they get the chance to get airborne in the aircraft. The reliance on ground-based training rather than live flying is helping to increase the efficiency of the training as well as reduce the cost. Towards the end of the course the students will be streamed to then focus more on the flying skills required for the specific types of aircraft they will go on to fly, namely fast jets, multi-engine aircraft or helicopters.
The United Kingdom Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS) is designed to provide an optimised flying training system for all 3 armed services. The key programme objectives include; reducing the capability gap between training and Front Line platforms, optimising the time spent in training and reducing the overall cost to Defence. This flying training programme is a key MOD change programme, funded to 2033, and delivered in phases in partnership with the MOD’s Training Service Partner, Ascent Flight Training. UKMFTS is a tri-service Military Flying Training System that will deliver aircrew to the Front Line Operational Conversion Units (OCUs) at the right time and to the MOD’s defined output standard. In order to provide this world class military flying training solution Ascent has delivered state of the art infrastructure including operational support buildings and advanced ground based training equipment.
Fg Off Jacob Weeks, 1st EFT Student Pilot:
“With this being my first flight in a light aircraft, I was blown away by the performance of the Prefect. Even without having experience on the previous EFT aircraft, the Tutor, I could tell that this was special. When Wg Cdr Bews passed over the controls, the Prefect was amazing to fly and I am truly humble to have been the first student in a long line to come!”
Fg Off Harrison Lane (second student to fly):
“It is a huge privilege to be among the first students to fly the Prefect. The flying instructors had all spoken very highly of the exceptional performance the aircraft delivers, and my own experience of that performance did not disappoint! I am excited to learn more about the aircraft, the capability of which I know will prepare me better than ever before for the aircraft types I will fly in the future.”
Wing Commander Ian Bews, OC EFT, 3 FTS:
“It was a great honour to take Jake flying on his first sortie ever in a plane. That this was also the first student sortie in a Prefect made is doubly special. It’s an exciting time in flying training at the minute and it’s a privilege to lead EFT through the transition to Prefect. The aircraft is by far the most capable elementary trainer the RAF has ever had and it’s a joy to fly.”
Group Captain Eugene Moriarty, Commandant 3 FTS:
‘The first ab-initio student sortie in Prefect is a significant moment for 3FTS and the MFTS partnership. It signals the culmination of years of hard work across the UKMFTS enterprise, and in particular over the last few months, the efforts of the whole force team at Cranwell. The Prefect provides a step change in training capability for the RAF, RN and AAC, more closely matching front line aircraft and better preparing our next generation of pilots for the challenges ahead. It promises to be a superb Elementary Training aircraft and we are very much looking forward to getting stuck in to training our first students.‘