HC Deb 23 May 1978 vol 950 cc460-2W
29. Mr. Michael Marshall

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the current cost of training a Royal Air Force pilot.

Mr. Wellbeloved

The cost of flying training varies with the aircraft and role concerned. The training of a fast jet pilot is the most expensive. The cost for this up to "wings" standard—the end of advanced flying training—is about £350,000. Before joining his first squadron, the fast jet pilot will then undertake tactical weapon and operational conversion training, so that the final cost will be in the region of £1 million.

Cost for multi-engine and helicopter training are less: about £120,000 and £160,000 respectively to "wings" standard. Pilot costs thereafter are difficult to assess since operational conversion training is given for the whole crew.

These figures are derived from cost accounting records and include, for the appropriate training stations concerned, personnel costs including administrative support, accommodation and office overhead costs, equipment support costs and depreciation costs for capital works and equipment. The effects of wastage at each subsequent stage of training are taken into account but no allowance is made for personnel transferred into other branches or restreamed to other flying duties such as helicopter flying. Costs quoted are therefore the average per successful pilot at 1977–78 prices; they do not indicate the marginal cost of training an individual pilot or the savings that would accrue if fewer pilots were trained.

34. Mr. Bean

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied with the number of Royal Air Force pilots and other aircrew completing their training; what is the percentage failure rate; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Wellbeloved

The current rate of training succes for aircrew is unsatisfactory. Less than half of those who begin training as pilots become fully qualified. A number of studies are being conducted in an endeavour to overcome this problem. For example, we are seeking improvements in our selection methods, including those for assessing perceptual motor skills and personal qualities. The value of a preliminary flying phase to identify pilot aptitude is being assessed and increases in flying hours during training have been introduced.

Failure rates vary according to aircraft type and role. About half of those who enter pilot training become fully qualified pilots. A number of the remainder will either become navigators or transfer to another branch.

The wastage rate for navigators is about 40 per cent. and for aircrew other than pilots and navigators between 5 per cent. and 20 per cent.

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