HC Deb 19 June 2002 vol 387 cc340-1W
Mr. Keetch

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to continue RAF involvement in(a) the Joint Elementary Flying Training Service and (b) university air squadrons; and if he will make a statement. [62278]

Mr. Ingram

[holding answer 17 June 2002]: The RAF's Director of Elementary Flying Training is, and will continue to be, responsible for the Joint Elementary Flying Training School (JEFTS). JEFTS provides elementary flying training (EFT) for all three services (except for RAF graduate entrants who have completed EFT at a university air squadron), flying grading for the Army and multi-engine aircraft lead-in training for the RAF. RAF EFT is undertaken at RAF Church Fenton, Royal Navy and Army EFT is undertaken at RAF Barkston Heath, multi-engine lead-in training is undertaken at RAF Cranwell and flying grading for the Army is undertaken at the School of Army Aviation at Middle Wallop.

JEFTS use Firefly aircraft to meet all their training needs and these aircraft are provided by Babcock HCS. The contract to provide these aircraft expires on 7 July 2003. There is a need for a short four-year replacement contract to allow for the potential change to the way flying training will be delivered under the United Kingdom Military Flying Training System project planned to commence in 2007. The cost-effective way to deliver the task for the next four years is to undertake the RAF element of the EFT task at university air squadrons, where the majority of RAF pilots already undertake their EFT. The university air squadrons can absorb this work with only a small increase in activity at individual air squadrons, and it will result in a significant overall saving on the cost of providing EFT. The balance of the JEFTS task has been completed and the new contract will be let shortly.

The RAF will continue to maintain university air squadrons under the command of the Director of Elementary Flying Training. The RAF have recently undertaken a review of RAF university air Squadron flying and ground training to recommend how university air squadrons could better meet the needs of the RAF and of undergraduates. The outcome of this review will be available soon and it is expected to recommend some improvements to the UAS operations, without making changes to the present structure.

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