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Aircrewman (Fe) Training


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I flew as an Aircrewman in the Australian Army Aviation Corps for 17 years.(Huey and Blackhawk)

My experiences were mixed, particularly in the context of funding training for crewmen v funding for pilot training.

A typical example of this was when we (pilots and crewmen) were told that we were entitled to a minimum number of hours annually for individual Skills Development (SD) sorties. For the crewmen it was MEANT to be 8 hours a year. For those of you who are crewmen, you can guess how many of us were actually able to use those hours....ZIP.

I actually only ever had one 2 hour SD sortie programmed some years back ( I was still a Corporal at the time), but had 3/4 of the sortie hijacked by the pilots (a QFI and a D Category pilot training for his upgrade).

Crewies have almost always had to fight, and fight hard, for any real advances for their training.

When I worked with crewmen from other nations,however, I learned that the Australian Army actually provided more for it's crewmen than was provided for most others.

 

Therefore, the purpose of my opening this thread is to provide crewmen with a thread through which they can exchange training ideas, and methods of gaining more funding for their own training.

 

My Military Instructional experience started with teaching Aircrewman Basic courses; maintaining skils and managing squadron crewmen; teaching Aircrewman Instructor Courses; Operational Type Transition Courses; and I finished as the Aircrewman Manager (rank WO2) of Gunnery and tactics courses (which included promotion courses for CPL, SGT and WO2.

 

I'm now working for Virtual Simulation Systems, where we produce, among other devices, an Aircrewman Specific Training device. The device permits Training for almost ALL disciplines within a crewman's scope.

 

I welcome comments and exchanges which will lead to advancing the training of Crewmen with the primary goal being to increase funding, skills and reducing the incidence of people dying at the point of rescue.

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Challenge Of Changing Cultural Thinking Toward Synthetic Training For Crewmen.

 

When, in 2007, we received our first Crewman Sims into The Australian Army Aviation Centre, we were faced with a number of challeges.

Firstly, we had to educate ourselves on the use of the new systems given to us. Essentially, Army said here's your sims, away you go. With use and exposure to the new technology, we were able to determine what elements of our crewman training could be taught and practiced in this new environment.

Additionally, we identified that we needed credibility for our system if we were to use it to train crewmen. To achive this we needed to formally learn how to use simulation in training. Through searches on the internet, and attendance at conventions, we were able to provide ourselves with the necessary background information. The main issue initially was convincing our superiors that they needed to invest funding into our training....

After we had conducted the required training and written the necessary qualifications to apply to our needs, we were able to start using this new device with it being written into our training continuum.

Once we had commenced augmenting our training with this device, we then faced our greatest challenge...convincing our older and more senior instructors that it was a worth while tool.

 

The thinking from the 'Olds and Bolds' at the time was that we have been teaching our crewmen a certain way forever, and that was how we should continue; and besides, how could playing a computer game help train crewmen?

 

The device is now known as the CATS (Complete Aircrew Training System), and uses VBS2, VR HMD's and aircraft cabin mockups and a 6 Degree of Freedom tracking system to immerse the trainee into the virtual world where proceedures could be demonstrated, and practiced.

 

The senior guys had to have pointed out to them that we were having to train our crewmen with an ever reducing allocation of aircraft hours, to the same standard. The cost of training was rapidly on the rise. At the time, flying a Blackhawk around the sky was $18000 / hour.

 

Our training method is:

Demonstrate (provide a detailed demonstration of the skill to the trainee);

Direct (talk the trainee through the skill set); and

Monitor (watch the trainee and critique and correct as required).

 

The demonstration could take up to 40 mins out of a 1.5 sortie, which meant that the trainee had to demonstrate a rapidly learned level of competency in just over an hour in order to continue.

 

Through the use of the systems, we were able to complete the demonstration phase so well, that instructors found themselves only having to perform a 'Limited Direct' phase before natural progression onto the Monitor phase in the Live environment. This meant that the trainee was gaining the benefit of the full 1.5 hour sortie to practice the skill sets and demonstrate competence.

 

An additional benefit of this new tool was that we could use it as a remedial training tool for trainees who may have failed a particular ride. In the pre-sim days, a trainee had a maximum of two additional rides per remedial to re-learn, or demonstrate competence prior to be being returned to normal training. If they failed to do so, they were removed from training, and we lost a crewman. Using the new training method has allowed us to place a trainee into the sim and pratice the weak skill set for a whole day or longer if required, to bring the trainee up to the required standard. This has allowed us now to keep a trainee who may have otherwise failed the course only due to a lack of resources.

 

Over time the senior instructors, who were initially against the use of the sim for training crewmen, began to turn through 180 degrees in their thinking, and even look for more skills to teach, practice and assess in the sim.

 

We started to use the sim quite heavily when teaching Crewman Instructor Courses. We reasoned that, trainees on the instructors course were already qualified crewmen, and what they needed to learn was Airborne Instructional Technique (AIT). For a crewman, because it is NOT like a pilot which is all hands and feet, most of an Instructor Trainees new skill was the verbal skills of pre-briefs, demonstrations and de-briefing. In order to learn how to monitor a trainee, the trainee crewman instructor just has to learn when to look at the trainee, and when to look outside. Do you have to be burning Jet fuel in order to learn how to do this?

We rationalised our use of the main ACFT type (Blackhawk) and placed some of it on a generic platform (Bell412) and dramatically increased our use of the sim. We found that our trainee instructors were reaching a level of competence much sooner than would have been possible when using the ACFT alone. This meant that at the end of our first year of training instructors with the benefit of the sim, we were able to hand back to the Commandant 100 hrs of Blackhawk airtime. Based on costs at the time, meant a saving of $1.8 million. (in private industry that would mean a productivity bonus for sure)

 

As a result, the older instructors were completely turned around and are actively seeking ways in which they could utilise the sim more.

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