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New Air Force leaders view plans for more virtual pilot training

The Air Force’s new military leaders, Chief of Staff Gen. Charles “CQ” Brown and Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass, made their first trip with Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett Thursday.

The leadership team traveled to Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph in Texas, where they were shown Air Education and Training Command’s plans to take lessons from its virtual reality and artificial intelligence-infused pilot training experiment, called Pilot Training Next, and incorporate them into a new version of undergraduate pilot training, which the Air Force is calling UPT 2.5.

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Helicopter Pilot Training Experiment Skips Fixed-Wing Courses

In an effort to improve helicopter pilot training and alleviate the Air Force’s overall pilot shortage, Air Education and Training Command is about to experiment with a back-to-the-future plan that would send pilots to a helicopters-only flight school, resurrecting a format discontinued in the 1990s.

A “small group experiment” starts later this week at the Army’s Fort Rucker, Ala., training base, and contracts are expected to be awarded within the next two weeks for contractor-run helicopter training to begin next month, 19th Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Craig D. Wills told Air Force Magazine.

The experiment is the first step in Undergraduate Helicopter Training Next, a program to answer the question: “Could you not produce a world-class helicopter pilot by training them exclusively on helicopters? And we believe the answer is yes,” Wills said in a July 30 interview.

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T-6 hypoxia problem solved, Air Force announces

The rash of hypoxia-like problems in the Air Force?s fleet of T-6 Texan II trainers was primarily caused by fluctuating concentrations of oxygen in the cockpit, the service said Thursday.

Air Education and Training Command said in a release that the Air Force will start putting a series of fixes in place to correct the problems. These fixes will include redesigning the oxygen system in the T-6, adjusting oxygen levels in flight, and increasing maintenance on the On-Board Oxygen Generating System, or OBOGS.

A six-month study conducted by AETC and Air Force Materiel Command, uncovered the problem with varying oxygen concentration levels, which AETC described as the ?major factor in unexplained physiological events? affecting T-6 pilots, AETC said. Experts from the Navy and NASA also assisted with the study.

AirForceTimes.com