TUDM Ab-Initio Training Programme

KUALA LUMPUR: After years of resisting the move towards the more cost-effective ab-initio and basic flight training on single engine civilian airplanes, TUDM finally has called an open tender for such a programme this week.

The tender “Perolehan Perkhidmatan Bagi Mengadakan Latihan Penerbangan AB-INITIO Untuk Kegunaan TUDM” ends on Jan 15.

After retiring the Bulldogs in 1997 , TUDM had conducted its Ab-Initio and Basic Flight training on the PC-7 trainers and then for a short period on the SME MD-3 trainer, a National Interest project, in 1999. After the failed MD-3 was unceremoniously dumped several years later (the aircraft have been stored at Simpang since 200..?) the air force resumed conducting ab-initio and basic flight training on the PC-7.

Although suitable for the task, using PC-7s for ab-initio and basic flight training is really an expensive affair but the air force continue to do so apparently lacking the funds either to purchase single engine basic trainers or lease them from the private sector.

The air force also refused to sent its trainees to private flight school claiming that private institutions had failed to instill “military ethos” for its cadets. Apparently the air force had a small number of cadets trained by the private sector during the period the Bulldogs were retired and found that the trainees lacked the same esprit de corps as their contemporaries. So the air force resumed its flight training on the PC-7s before moving to the MD-3 and back to the Pilatus aircraft after SME built aircraft were retired early.

Most military conduct ab-initio and basic flight training on single engine trainers like the Cessna 182 and the Grob to screen flyers as the operating costs are cheap. Since the early 90s most air forces have conducted such training under Private Finance Initiative under a Pay-By-The Hour basis. Some countries even purchased the training aircraft preferring to contract out maintenance and through-life-support with the private sector. In both instances, the flight instructors were from the military although civilians (mostly retired military personnel) are also involved in the programme. This type of arrangement has also been extended to LIFT programme such as the Singapore Wings and NATO LIFT programmes.

TUDM has resisted similar deal for ab-initio and basic flight, for years now. Malaysian Defence remembered a conversation with a former TUDM chief who steadfastly insisted that the air force knew the best way to train its flyers during an encounter during one of the LIMA series. ]

Fast-forward to the next LIMA, the retired general was now a shareholder of a private aviation school offering flight training to both civilians and the military. Characteristically, his company was involved in lobbying the government to get the air force to farm out its ab-initio and basic flight training to the private sector, the same thing he had steadfastly disavowed merely two years earlier!

As the company remained one of the bigger flight training school in the country, Malaysian Defence expects that it would be in the running for the tender, it may well be the only way the company can survive the current economic crisis. Perhaps the retired general had changed his mind or not!…Oh well.

Anyways if you are involved in the flight training business and duly registered with the Finance Ministry under the “Kod Bidang : 220502 atau 190101 atau 190102, please go ahead and tender for the job. It maybe the best solution to get some cold cash from the government during this hard times….

–Malaysian Defence.

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About Marhalim Abas 2223 Articles
Shah Alam


  1. I was hinted by a close friend of mine that the next batch of KTU cadets will be flying at a flying academy in Kota Bharu. Anyhow, does it have any connection with the tender? I was wondering whether the Air Force could maintain the discipline, quality and esprit de corp of its cadets when (if the realisation of the tender becomes apparent) they mingle together with civilian cadet.

    Marhalim: I do not know whether the Kota Bharu training academy is connected to the tender, perhaps its the current ad-hoc arrangement and after realising its cheaper in the short and long term and perhaps complaints from the other flight academies, they decided to have an open tender, On the second question, its the same reason that had led the air force to conduct its ab-initio and basic flight training on the PC-7s. For me, as long as the flight instructing is conducted by military instructors or recently retired military pilots and the cadets are housed in their own dormitories away from the civilian students, it will be okay.

  2. It’s much better to have cadets exposed to the hazing/dedovschina sometimes embarrassingly revealed. If a cadet cannot maintain his military decorum and composure when working with civilians, he’s going to suck in life.

  3. Marhalim,

    I have seen photos of army and RMN pilots graduating rotary training at Ipoh. I think this was done by a private firm too?

    Marhalim: They may have come out from the helo school operating out of the Ipoh airport but I am not too sure of the firm’s current status. The firm first made a splash in LIMA 2003. They were not around for the last Lima. The firm was using EC-120 I believe, a much modern design with glass cockpit, good training for pilots destined to fly the Super Lynx and the A109.

  4. It was foolish of me to suggest that anyone with a flying academy or knows someone in MINDEF to bid for the job. It is most likely that the tender is a mere window dressing and a preferred supplier had already been chosen….

  5. There’s always a preferred supplier before a tender is let……

    Marhalim: I can understand preference but chosen is another issue all together, oh well….

  6. Since we are on the subject of training… Does Marhalim know anything about the rangeless ACMI system that is to be leased? I believe this was signed during the last LIMA or DSA.

    Marhalim: The Letter of Intent for the rangeless ACMI was signed at Farnborough in July. This a formal contract arrangement with DRS Technologies with the local agent, Aerotree, which got the deal from RMAF in June. Aerotree will in turn lease the system to the government. pay by the hour deal? In the last few years, Aerotree have been providing the system to the air force on an ad-hoc basis> They are also mostly involved in target towing etc, for all services.

  7. In other country such as Australia, Singapore and UK ( to name some of them..) ab initio training for fixed wing and rotary wing have been long done by privately owned contractor but in a more centralised and standardized manner.

    Meaning to say that all aviators and flyers from every and each branch within the armed forces were trained together with the same type of basic training aircraft and training module. It is then upon completion of their training, cadet pilots are streamed into advance training aircarft which are suitable with their service’s nature of operation.

    For example, after completing ab initio training with single engined DA-40, an RMAF cadet pilot will proceed to PULATIBANG to fly the PC-7. On the other hand,PUTD and RMN aviator will proceed with R22 and EC-120B training helicopter for their next phase of rotary wing basic flying.

    Maybe RMAF should also send their heli pilot for the same helicopter training along side their Army and Navy counterpart. This exercise would be time and cost effective provided that the flying academy that we’ve sent them to train at are well equipped and have a sound and credible traning module.

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