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How in Russia military pilots are trained

How in Russia military pilots are trained

August 6 2018
Tags: Russia, VKS, Aircraft

VCS of Russia is actively replenished with new technology. According to the results of 2017 year, according to the statement of the Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu, the VKS received 191 aircraft and a helicopter (including new and renovated ones).

However, the troops do not provide enough equipment - they also need people who are capable of not only flying it, but also performing combat missions. And about this side of the combat readiness of the Russian Air Force in open sources is reported very little. Such information vacuum generates a mass of rumors in the expert environment, if not to say fictions, up to the point that the country risks to remain without a trained air crew in the near future. It's no secret that during the August 2008 conflict, the Russian Air Force had to issue even instructors of training units to combat missions over Georgia - the combat pilots were physically lacking. It is not surprising. In the Soviet Union there were nine schools that trained pilots for the Air Force, in modern Russia - only one, the Krasnodar Higher Military Aviation School of Pilots (KVVAUL).

Does it handle its tasks? Does he have enough trained teachers, instructors, how is the cadets being selected? How are things today with the training of military pilots, especially in the context of the military operations being conducted in Syria mainly by front-line aviation forces?

The newspaper VZGLYAD told all this to the newspaper, Colonel Oleg Buchelnikov, deputy head of the school for flight training (and the head of the school at the time of the preparation of the interview). 

Fighting the legacy of Serdyukov

VIEW: Oleg Yurevich, more than a year ago, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced a significant deficit of military pilots. It was said about the shortage of 1300 flight personnel as of 2016 year, but the minister promised that "in 2018 we will close the shortage for the flight crew".

Your school is the only one in the country. It is responsible for the training of military pilots, so that the VCs do not lack a flight crew. Is the shortage of pilots closed for today?

Oleg Buchelnikov:To claim that the deficit is closed, it would be premature. I can only say that in the current, 2018 year, our school for the first time in several years carried out a full-fledged release of military pilots who finished the school following the results of the first full-scale recruitment, held in 2013. Before that, as you remember, the policy of the previous leadership of the Ministry of Defense was to reduce the enrollment in the school dramatically.

LOOK: Yes, I remember, it was part of Serdyukov's famous reforms. You two years did not recruit cadets at all, if I'm not mistaken?

O.B .:More. For the Ministry of Defense (and there are other customers), we practically did not gain three years, with 2010 for 2012.

LOOK: Could you explain what a "full set" is? What is the number of cadets?

O.B .:The 2018 edition of the year consisted of more than 350 cadets. And next year, and in the following, we will also carry out full-blooded issues. I think that these results will make it possible to fully staff the Russian Air Force.

LOOK: However, from the point of view of the educational process, there is a big difference in whether you graduate 20-30 cadets per year or 350 and more. After the "serdiuykovsky failure," the set, as you say, has grown dramatically. With such a sharp growth, a lot of contradictions arise. It was necessary, conditionally, five combat training planes - and it became necessary fifty. We needed ten pilots-instructors - and it became necessary one hundred. How did you cope with this problem?

O.B .:Yes, in those years we understood that, on the one hand, the number of instructors and technicians was really excessive, but on the other, we could not react to what was happening formally, that is, just dismiss instructors as useless. The process of training instructors and maintaining the integrity of the aircraft fleet has not ceased.

VIEW: I understand correctly that the number of instructors has not been reduced?

O.B .:Yes. Their actual number decreased with years only for reasons of natural loss, some were due to the age limit of service and the state of health. But we remained, as they say, "kept in the body" and cooked.

Well, then flights of cadets begin not in the first year, but on the third, so when the first full-blooded set in 2013-m was realized, we already understood that to 2015 we will need a certain number of instructors. We had plenty of time to get ourselves ready. There was a job with pilots instructors who had gone into the reserve, about 30 instructors during this time we returned. The Main Directorate of Personnel of the Ministry of Defense supported us in this matter.

The pilots live too well?

LOOK: In the USSR, as is known, in aviation military schools studied four years. In this case, a significant part of the study time - there are allegations that up to a quarter - was occupied by ideology, Marxist-Leninist training.

Now there is no Marxist-Leninist training in schools. But instead of four years of cadets teach five. Why?

O.B .:First, the search is that the Marxist-Leninist training took up a quarter of the curriculum. I myself am still a graduate of the Soviet flying university. Yes, there were certain items, I can even list them even now. On each course, one, two, and in percentage terms was not so much. There was really optimal preparation, four years, flying from the first year, then from the second year.

VIEW: And now it's only from the third year.

O.B .:Right. Russian universities, including military ones, entered the unified system of the world educational process, the so-called Bologna Convention. And in order to legally issue a diploma of higher professional education to a graduate, we are compelled to follow certain rules. The duration of training has increased due to the increase in the share of studying general education disciplines - this takes practically the first year of the cadet's training. Only in the second year of the cadet begins, conditionally, to approach closer to the airplane and the airfield, and on the third - to learn to fly.

VIEW: But even if a person entered a military school, it is not a fact that he will become a pilot, not to mention that he will become a good pilot. Sometimes there are assessments right up to the fact that almost every second cadet was expelled during the Soviet period - he was not recognized as fit for flying. How does this stand today?

O.B .:Not everyone can fly, it's true. The figures that you named, and in the Soviet time they were not, not every second was eliminated in the learning process. Initially, the candidates go through very strict selection using special techniques. And those that show the low level of the psychophysical qualities necessary for the pilot-the speed of thinking, coordination of movements, and so on-they just do not enter the school.

Of course, in the learning process, there are still losses. In the third year, the decisive stage of selection comes. Based on the results of the export program (training flights with an instructor - note VZGLYAD), the instructor decides whether the cadet has flight capabilities. And the final decision - admission to the first independent flight on the instructions of the instructor - takes the pilot flying staff.

LOOK: How much of everything is eliminated from among those enrolled in relation to those who finish the school?

O.B .:In recent years, this percentage even for us is surprisingly low - about 5-6%. This is almost two to three times less than the established standards. The rest of the guys are trying. And the instructors try, of course. No instructor wants to have a reputation as a weak methodologist. The rating of instructors on the results of work is compiled, including taking into account the deductions of cadets - and the instructors are motivated.

VIEW: To the question of motivation. If it's not a secret, how much does a regular instructor earn?

O.B .:The range of pay is very large. Much depends on the title, position, seniority. The lieutenant, who came after graduation from the school and appointed as an instructor, who does not have a class or service, receives about sixty thousand rubles. Further with seniority of years and reception of new ranks, posts and class qualification the monetary contentment increases.

LOOK: What about housing?

O.B .:All graduates today - both instructors and drill pilots - have access to a special funded mortgage system. After three years of service, they are entitled to a special housing loan and, as a rule, buy themselves a decent place to live at the duty station. From the point of view of providing housing for the military today there are no problems at all.

LOOK: I heard from some representatives of the leading flight personnel even such estimates - they say, the pilots became fed up with material goods, the state gives them too much, and the best artist is a hungry artist. There was even the suggestion that some people come to the Air Force for big salaries and apartments, and not to protect their Motherland. Do you agree with this?

O.B .:Strongly disagree. If such phrases from these or those pilots sound, then, it seems to me, except as a joke. We have just finished a recruitment campaign, and there are often examples where students try to enter the school three or four times. Falls - and again goes! So they embody the dream of becoming a military pilot, and not a dream about an apartment. What the government has done for all officers lately has not corrupted any of the pilots. This only made it possible for the officers to feel that they are firmly on their feet and can calmly engage in their direct business, and not think about everyday life.

What is behind the problems with Yak-130

VIEW: This is in sharp contrast to what was in the Armed Forces in the 90-s, I agree. In those same 1990 there were also big problems, if I'm not confused, with training and combat equipment, and with kerosene. Is it enough now in the school for training aircraft?

O.B .:This is one of the most difficult questions. We are engaged in its decision together with the Chief Command of the VKS in cooperation with the United Aircraft Corporation. There is a long-term plan for the supply of new models and modifications to the training aviation units of the school that the L-39 will have to replace training and combat, replacing our elderly transporters An-26, and improving the L-410 aircraft. Since 2012, new machines Yak-130 began to arrive. In this regard, everything will be fine.

LOOK: So it's not all right now?

O.B .:We are flying for the third year with a large number of cadets and fully implement the flight training program. Thanks to the dedicated work of the engineers of the technical staff, and getting our training equipment from overhaul. The technology is enough, the plan we carry out. The graduate's plaque, which is laid down in the curriculum (200 hours), we give out. There are no problems with fuel supply.

Another thing is that the issue of updating the technology was pushed aside for a while. Our long-established aircraft on resource indicators will still be written off. They can not be exploited indefinitely.

VIEW: That's just the point. Here you have mentioned Yak-130, this is a new machine, which is just being replaced by training units. Can you say that the Yak-130 fully corresponds to its destination of "flying desk"?

O.B .:In general, yes. Now on the Yak-130 cadets of the 4 and 5 courses of operational-tactical aviation fly. Together with cadets, research institutes and other organizations, we master all the opportunities inherent in this aircraft.

VIEW: There were reports of problems with this machine.

O.B .:I ask you to understand correctly - this is not a specific feature of this type of aircraft. Any type of aircraft, after passing tests in the design bureau, begins to flow into the troops, the number of flight hours increases, and the airplane detects childhood illnesses. Elimination of these roughnesses takes time. This is what happens with Yak-130.

Which aircraft will replace the legendary L-39

LOOK: And yet the main "flying desk" today is the famous L-39, produced in its time back in Czechoslovakia. On them and on their predecessors L-29 tens of thousands of military pilots of the entire Warsaw Treaty studied. The plane was inherited by Russia and is still an airplane of initial training. Yak-130 - it's still the plane of the next stage.

As you said, the car can not be operated indefinitely. So, it's time to look for a replacement for this legendary, but already outdated L-39. Alternatives were offered - for example, CP-10, a very interesting car with a swept wing sweep, it was said about plans to revive the MiG-AT project. How do you feel about these plans?

O.B .:The information you give is informal. Speaking purely officially, our school takes part in research projects conducted under the guidance of the VCS on the topic of a prospective military training aircraft.

VIEW: I would still like to know your personal point of view. As an officer in charge of the flight training of all, in fact, future Russian military pilots.

O.B .:I do not have enough materials for such an assessment. Yes, now the initial flight training is conducted on the plane L-39. In the future, it could be changed to another, more affordable and economical in price and operation. As options for such a replacement, the VCS considers all the aircraft that you listed. But not only them - besides this there are a couple of titles that I will not mention, because their discussion is still ongoing.

VIEW: What do you think of SR-10?

O.B .:Talk about whether a bad or good one or another aircraft, you can by the results of any tests. SR-10 performed several flights and was presented at certain ostentatious events. It is very small to draw any conclusions about his true qualities.

VIEW: And Yak-152?

O.B .:A fairly long-standing project, but here, as far as I'm concerned, there were commercial and technical difficulties. We participate in the relevant research work, held a joint meeting with the developers. And for today I can not say that we raised both hands for any particular type of aircraft, which should replace L-39.

VIEW: As far as I'm aware of the discussions that you mentioned, the option of replacing the L-39 piston machine is being discussed. After all, in many countries initial training is conducted on cheap piston machines, and only then cadets gradually pass to jet ones. Do you support this position?

O.B .:Indeed, the prospect of switching to such a car as an initial training aircraft is seriously considered. There is a study and analysis of the proposed design bureau options for a new aircraft initial flight training. It is time to decide on the final choice of the type of this aircraft. We are waiting for this decision, and I'm sure it will.

After all, if only today put the aircraft on a conveyor belt, this does not mean that tomorrow it will be ready for training cadets. It takes at least several years - to test, to develop, to eliminate "childhood diseases". I think in the near future we will learn the name of the aircraft, which will replace L-39.

Mikhail Rybyanov
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