JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas –
In order to maintain readiness, the Air Force is utilizing innovation and technology to transform pilot training to be faster while also teaching skills that will make effective warfighters, according to the Air National Guard assistant to the commander at Air Education and Training Command who spoke during this year’s Alamo Chapter of the Armed Forces Communications & Electronics Association virtual Alamo ACE conference Nov. 19.
Maj. Gen. John Hronek discussed initiatives and programs AETC is implementing to transform pilot training, and he explained how technologies, including virtual reality, artificial intelligence and analytics, have important roles in how AETC instructors are training pilots.
“As we recruit pilot candidates, we try to build the most diverse, best candidates we have out there, that really have the passion, that want to be part of the Air Force, and we are finding ways to do that better - getting the wings into the Air Force,” Hronek said.
There are two main objectives in accomplishing the task of transforming pilot training, enhancing lethality and readiness, and transforming the way pilots learn, Hronek said.
“Being lethal and ready requires the Air Force to have access to the latest technology for pilot training,” he said. “We have competition from the Russians and the Chinese, who have basically developed their technologies and their capabilities. We need to not only keep up with, but be ahead of them. That has been our greatest strength as Americans, as we’ve always been leaders in our technology. I think that’s something that we really need to work on within our future.”
Another initiative to enhancing lethality and readiness is adjustable training timelines and modularized technical training techniques, which have cut idle time in certain training pipelines by 40 percent, enabling Airmen to get through training and to their first duty locations faster and more ready, he said.
Hronek also discussed AETC’s Pilot Training Next initiative, which focuses on training pilots better and faster, while helping them foster deeper learning. This is based on utilizing advanced immersive training, remote simulator operations, and innovations in the advanced phases of pilot training by working with industry partners.
Through the Pilot Training Next initiative, Hronek said AETC has been able to decrease some portions of pilot training by several months.
“As we improved our effectiveness with what we’ve learned in our Pilot Training Next experiments since 2018, we are trying to operationalize the proven innovation concepts in the limited scale,” he said.
“We want to transition to a student-centered learning, not just one class. We also want to deliver quality instruction that gives feedback to the instructors on how that student is progressing and how they can progress them faster, making sure they are not missing something,” Hronek said. “In order to accelerate change, we must embrace the pace of technology and change that which currently exists in our world.”