Are the new flying 'syllabi' total guff?

Its been a while, here are some delibertately controversial musings on the flying ‘syllabi’ in the Royal Air Force Air Cadets.

The new ‘Flying Operations’ module of First Class is a breath of fresh air and builds on the progress made by the SW Rgn Trg Off in their 2020 re-design of the old material (the old bright-yellow-against-pastel-blue slides of the original airmanship were so illegible on projectors that it made my head hurt.) This course also has an associated qualification, ‘Blue ATP Ground School’; I guess we are supposed to add this qualification to cadets once they complete the course.

Synthetic training that we might deliver on squadrons is also a sensible approach. Those who look to buy flight simulators should make sure they engage with their cadets and younger staff (these kids will know a lot more about the best and cheapest than old dusty squabbling leaders at wing level).

One of our wing staff officers managed to spend a six-figure grant with a computer gaming company for about six or eight bespoke portable VR flight simulators built on 2006 software (soon to be unsupported) that renders the world as autogenerated farmland — nigh useless for practical navigation without spending more money on scenery packs. :face_vomiting:

#Yes Minister from Oh ugliness~

For comparison, modern appropriate software and equipment can be sourced below £1300 per unit (roughly 10% the cost and more capable than our wing managed to blow the grant on.)

This money could have (and should have) equipped each squadron in the wing with about three or four simulators perfect for synthetic and realistic flight training. See the image comparison below between the wing purchase and what we could have won with a bit of openness and SME engagement:

And that’s about it; if cadets want the Bronze or higher badges, they need a scholarship or a ‘RAFAC approved service provider for Private Pilot’s License (PPL)’, whoever they are (assuming it’s just Tayside Aviation for now) to achieve Gold.

The concept of RAFAC approved service providers is barmy; the RAFAC do not award PPLs, the CAA do, and irrespective of funding source, the training and examinations are conducted by CAA-approved civilian flight instructors.

For the same reason, could ‘C’ wings not be mirrored to the Silver badge?

In conclusion

Blue badge: good, if a bit fiddly for those without sims or if the wing is run by dinosaurs.

Bronze badge: if you manage to get on ACPS/GS but its too windy to solo.

Silver badge: if you manage to get on ACPS/GS during the nice weather.

Gold badge: nobody knows unless you live on a VGS for a few years or presumably spend over £6000 at Tayside Aviation and live in Dundee for a few months. We won’t know until somebody updates ACTO34 (it still describes the old system) or announces an update to IBN 029 - 2021.

I don’t mean to knock Tayside Aviation or Dundee. They’re both fantastic, the CFI Marjan Bledowski was formidable and his students flew very well. Dundee is pleasant (though the taxi drivers talk a lot) and the city is home to a new and very snazzy V&A museum.


Couldn’t agree more. And I need to start by seconding your comments about the new syllabus, it’s excellent!

The RAF in the modern era account for, maybe, 5% of the uk’s flying, still probably a wild exaggeration. Yet their seems to be this hellbent obsession with acting like they really are the only people qualified to fly an aeroplane.

High G manoeuvres, yes absolutely, let the RAF run that and rule accordingly. That’s not what PPL type flying is though. A CAA approved instructor should have the skills to teach basic flight, or they wouldn’t be a CAA approved instructor!


The ‘Air’ went out of Air Cadets about 7 years ago and it is very unlikely to return, despite what HQ say.


Agree completely. Synthetic training cannot offer the same experience.


If anyone saw AOC22 group walking round Cosford I hope they told him what they think of the lack of opportunities and him killing ACTO35.


On the specific question of FI qualifications - Tayside is audited by CFS trappers. So they are not the same as a generic CAA qualified FI. I can’t comment on some of the rest!

They may be audited by CFS, but at the end of the day their qualification is still a UK CAA FI Certificate in accordance with Part FCL.905

Yes, but AOC 22Gp has independent evidence that they are current and competent, as well as qualified… which he feels he needs.

As oppose to every other flying instructor who is certified by the CAA - what do we think they don’t do any kind of certification, have minimum standards etc. Let’s not forget that military flying is conducted by un-qualified pilots and instructors - ie they have no internationally recognised flying qualifications and/or ratings and instead complete an in-house training course.


Just thinking but I was under the impression that the RAF is sub-contracting more & more of its flying training.

As such don’t you have nominal civilians teaching new military pilots? Wouldn’t they have to have CAA qual?

Maybe, but I think you will find all instructors are ex-forces instructors - after all, how would one become a fast jet pilot and instructor not through the military?

Agreed regarding the ex-military but once you become ex-military you are civilians & then governed by civilian regs? You are by definition no longer military.

Also other countries allow civilians to learn how to fly fighter jets so it’s not inconceivable that the market becomes civilianised or that you end up with instructors that have never been military.

Combat tactics will always be military but basic flying can easily be done by the non-specialist.

They will be operating under JSP318 Military Flying Regulations - Same as AEF Pilots


A friend of mine was a Helicopter pilot for SAR. Left the RAF for over 15 years. Came back - two week refresher and was out teaching pilots again, with no flying experience in the intervening years. No way that would be possible in CAA

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Which he has been told he needs?

Some 3/4* needs to give their head a wobble if they’ve interfered with the head of training so much that he gets micro managed over which PPLs (which the RAFAC plays no part whatsoever in providing) are issued a piece of (in the grand scheme of things) meaningless cloth with gold thread and which get a piece of cloth with white thread.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s great that 3&4 star officers care so much about the minutiae of how we are run, but perhaps they could put the same effort into ensuring that we have a functioning e-learning system, or communication system

Unless you’re suggesting that the person telling him is actually a lower ranked adviser. In which case he’d hasn’t been told he’s been advised and has failed to use the intelligence he must have to get to 2* level to consider and question that advice and has come to an unreasonable conclusion.

If the badge meant anything in terms of additional military flying qualifications/priority recruitment to the RAF then yes, I could understand it. But it’s a recognition of something the cadet has done outside the RAFAC so giving them the gold wings carries the sum total of naff all risk to the organisation.

It’s no different to us having a policy where cadets who complete DofE outside of cadets can only wear the badge if someone from the RAF had independently verified the training and assessment process of the individual centre because we don’t trust the DofE organisation to administer and quality control a qualification they award.


Have you seen the ‘level playing field’ across RAFAC for DofE training and assessment :roll_eyes:

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Don’t give them ideas! :shushing_face:


Has anyone seen or heard anything back from the two aviation surveys that were pushed out to cadets by 2FTS a year or two ago?

I imagine it would be extremely interesting to see how closely the cadets expectations match that which is now delivered.