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Air Force Terminates T-3 Flying Program



RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas---The Air Force will terminate the Enhanced Flight Screening program and cease flying the T-3A Firefly, which was suspended from flying operations in July 1997. An expanded Introductory Flight Training program will replace the flight screening program. The Air Force has been using an introductory flight training program since October 1998 to screen and prepare pilot candidates for advancement to Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training.
The current IFT program includes 40 hours of flying time and requires a solo flight. The expanded program increases the flying time to 50 hours and requires additional solo flights and candidates to earn a private pilot's license. The added flying time will improve their flying skills and better prepare them for further Air Force pilot training.
Service officials said training in the current IFT program has produced comparable attrition rates in the initial flying phase of specialized undergraduate pilot training. With the Enhanced Flight Screening program, the attrition rate was 7.8 percent. The current program attrition rate is 8.8 percent. The Air Force expects the additional training in the expanded program to further reduce the attrition rate.
Additionally, service officials said the IFT program would save approximately $16 million annually over the Enhanced Flight Screening program. The EFS program cost about $26 million to operate, while the IFT program is expected to cost about $10 million per year.
In the IFT program, pilot candidates will receive Federal Aviation Administration-certified flight instruction through local flight schools. The Air Force says more than 150 flight schools nationwide may be involved in the training program, mostly near colleges and universities with Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps detachments. Pilot candidates at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo., will receive their training in the local area.
After completing the expanded IFT program, pilot candidates will enter Air Force Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training.
Air Force officials are studying disposition options for the fleet of 110 T-3A aircraft, which originally cost the Air Force approximately $32 million.

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Air Force Terminates T-3 Flying Program