The aviation branch of the military faces a multitude of challenges both in the air and on the ground. High costs associated with flying hours, aircraft maintenance and aging equipment make every dollar count for taxpayers. Aircraft fleets are a costly asset for the Army that require exceptional return on investment. Return on investment applies not only to physical assets, but also to Airmen.
Army aviators, regardless of their warplane, must strive to obtain qualifications and proficiency on single-engine fixed-wing aircraft. And the army should encourage them along the way, because it also has everything to gain. Understanding these benefits will help commanders and soldiers make informed decisions about the ongoing training available to them and those they lead.
The Federal Aviation Association’s Land Single-Engine Airplane Private Pilot Certificate will undoubtedly make Army Airmen safer, more combat-effective, and better prepared for their duties.
The best aviators fly safely within the parameters of their mission, which maximizes aircraft survivability. Less money spent on expensive aircraft parts translates to more training. More training allows Airmen to maintain and improve their skills. This cyclical timeline begins and ends with the pilots and should be the focus of the development of new aviation asset management strategies. Pilots with multiple aircraft qualifications in different flight environments and mission sets will inevitably outperform those without such experiences. The Airplane Single Engine Land certificate is an option that can produce such effects with minimal inconvenience to the interest of the military.
In combat, Airmen exposed to single-pilot operations will inevitably have better situational awareness and airmanship. The cushion of having another pilot at a crew station can lull pilots into a sense of stability. As we move into training for large-scale combat operations, a senior pilot’s incapacitation could pose a life-threatening threat to a junior airman in command. The ASEL rating enables solo operations and forms the core of all flying in general aviation, effectively training these pilots to have superior cockpit workload distribution skills under stressful conditions. .
With respect to peacetime operations, Chapter 5 of AR 95-1 states that “Army personnel engaged in the operation of Army aircraft/UAS shall comply with regulations, applicable federal aviation laws and rules”, which would include Part 91, General Operating and Flight Rules. . This overlap is one of the agreements between the Army and the FAA that allows our pilots to receive civilian qualification equivalency and can be found in Part 61, Certification-Pilots. Knowing and practicing these rules would make state-side operations safer. An Army Airman will know more about the procedures and errors often made by general aviation in the airspace, and will be better able to choose his course of action in the event of a safety hazard.
The ASEL certificate can cost anywhere from $4,000 to $10,000 depending on the flight school, location, and hours needed to become proficient. This one-time military investment will pay for itself in several ways. After receiving the ASEL certificate, Airmen will fly and train at their own pace and with their own funds. This is demonstrated by the exceptional success of the Army’s online credentialing opportunity programs. The number of active-duty soldiers requesting these funds to continue their aviation training has exceeded the amount so much that the program has had to temporarily reduce their payment amounts.
By allowing these Airmen to hone and refine their airmanship at their own pace, the Army can expect a significant reduction in accidents. A single Class A accident can cause up to $2,000,000 in damage and loss of life or limb. Although rates have been falling steadily for 10 years, any accident that could have been avoided is a tragedy. In real dollars, just one Class A accident averted will have prudently paid for 200 Airmen to receive this training and certification. The number of class B to F accidents that can be avoided is almost immeasurable.
Our Airmen are technical experts who consider risk management, safety and mission accomplishment every day they fly. Let’s train them well enough to be competent in any aviation company and treat them well enough that they can stay with our organization.
Second Lieutenant Said Eljadidi hails from Oxford, Massachusetts and was a recent graduate of the Initial Entry Fixed-Wing C-12 course. He will be stationed at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, taking the MC-12 course at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, the Pentagon, or the United States government.
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