THE ROYAL AIR FORCE is to train its multi-engine crew in the civil sector in a trial to establish whether such a route will provide an adequate level of tuition for military-transport pilots.

Some RAF pilots are now undergoing multi-engine training in the civil sector in Canada. The RAF is also about to award a contract to a UK civil-training school.

The standard of trainee emerging from both courses will be compared with candidates trained through the RAF's traditional training channels.

Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sir Peter Graydon, says: "We're putting some guys through civilian organisations and doing others our way, and looking at the end results. We've got to make damn sure that we can take the product and turn him into a proper pilot rather than an airline pilot."

Senior air force officials stress that there is a considerable difference between training a pilot to fly an airliner and training a military pilot to fly a Lockheed C-130 Hercules at 50ft (15m), using night-vision goggles.

The review of training practices emerged as a result of the Ministry of Defence's 1994 Front Line First cost-reduction studies aimed at saving £750 million a year. Training was identified as one area for "contractorisation".

Alongside "market testing" multi-engine training, the RAF will, from 1 April, 1997, have its helicopter pilots trained at the contractor-run tri-service Defence Helicopter Flying School at RAF Shawbury.

It also plans to introduce a "60/40% division between service and non-regular instructors at basic and helicopter flying training." Fast-jet training will retain a service-only instructor structure.

Source: Flight International