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.If you like this post, buy me an espresso. Paypal Payment