HomeNewsArticle Display

Pilot Training Next cadre discuss lessons learned, way forward

U.S. Air Force Second Lt. Charles Keller and Airman First Class Tyler Haselden, Pilot Training Next students, train on a virtual reality flight simulator at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Austin, Texas, June 21, 2018. Air Education and Training Command officials announced the second iteration of Pilot Training Next would begin in January 2019 during a panel at the 2018 Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sean M. Worrell)

U.S. Air Force Second Lt. Charles Keller and Airman First Class Tyler Haselden, Pilot Training Next students, train on a virtual reality flight simulator at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Austin, Texas, June 21, 2018. Air Education and Training Command officials announced the second iteration of Pilot Training Next would begin in January 2019 during a panel at the 2018 Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sean M. Worrell)

U.S. Air Force Second Lt. Austin Sneed, Pilot Training Next student, trains on a virtual reality flight simulator at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Austin, Texas, June 18, 2018. Air Education and Training Command officials announced the second iteration of Pilot Training Next would begin in January 2019 during a panel at the 2018 Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Maryland. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sean M. Worrell)

Second Lt. Austin Sneed, Pilot Training Next student, trains on a virtual reality flight simulator at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Austin, Texas, June 18, 2018. Air Education and Training Command officials announced the second iteration of Pilot Training Next would begin in January 2019 during a panel at the 2018 Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md. (U.S. Air Force photo by Sean M. Worrell)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (AFNS) -- Air Education and Training Command officials announced the second iteration of Pilot Training Next would begin in January 2019 during a panel at the 2018 Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference.

To refine the curriculum for the next class, the PTN cadre used data collected from the first cohort of the Air Force’s innovative and experimental approach to enhance the future of pilot training to conduct a “Lessons Learned” workshop in conjunction with the AFWERX hub based in Austin, Texas.

“In the first iteration of PTN, we made some significant gains in terms of the lessons we learned in training using current and emerging technologies, as well as individualized training methods,” said Lt. Col. Robert Vicars, PTN director. “Moving forward, we want to learn from our first experience to make this training process smoother and more efficient.”

During Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson’s opening remarks at AFA, she stressed the importance of people and their innovative ideas. She talked about the idea and the testing being done at PTN and that the results so far have been promising.

“When they start out, trainees are typically able to fly just 10 minutes or so, of an hour and half training ride, with the instructors doing the rest,” Wilson said. “But if they get a lot more practice in virtual reality, the students are flying about 90 percent of their first rides, shaving weeks off flying training.”

Thirteen students graduated from the first PTN iteration Aug. 3. The course ran 24 weeks and included 184 academic hours, with approximately 70 to 80 flight hours in the T-6 Texan II, as well as approximately 80 to 90 hours of formal flight training in the simulator (which doesn’t account for training conducted on students’ own time).

Technology Lessons

One of the key tenants of the PTN program is the round-the-clock access to an immersive simulation training environment, with students having 24/7 access to simulators in their living quarters. Critical to building that individualized and continuously accessible training environment has been the use of virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

“Using AI and VR in the training environment is a game-changer,” said Lt. Col. Jason Colborn, PTN Detachment 21 commander. “One of the lessons we learned is that using these technologies still requires some up-front investment in terms of VR content creation, as well as development of the AI in a way that keeps pace with the students’ timeline.”

When it comes to data collection, context matters as the data comes in many different forms, Vicars said.

“During this first class, we learned how to manage and validate a continuous data flow from multiple sensors,” said Vicars. “Moving forward, we are adding redundancy to our data flows to ensure more consistent data is gathered.”

Training Methodology Lessons

Unlike the traditional undergraduate pilot training model, PTN offered students the opportunity to learn in a collaborative learning environment in a learner-centric way, in line with AETC’s redesigned Continuum of Learning model, said Vicars.

“One of the biggest takeaways we learned is the fact that PTN students having autonomy and individualized training, as opposed to the traditional UPT students’ set syllabus, really sped up student learning,” Vicars said. “While this approach created sortie scheduling challenges, we are looking at more adaptive scheduling tools to help with that problem.”

Another lesson learned was one that while the instructor pilots intentionally took a very open approach to training that valued options-based choices, there was a need to create a more structured approach to the individual’s options during training to allow for a more meaningful experience, said Vicars.

“In the next iteration, we will have the students use the learning management system with an AI-enabled search engine to help aggregate relevant content based on machine-generated, performance-based search terms,” said Vicars, “We will also give them more robust emergency procedures training to help build airmanship.”

Additionally, striking the right balance between making early aircraft platform tracks, such as (combat air forces, mobility air forces, or special operations forces), and providing common experiences that create a typical pilot, are topics being addressed.

Program Considerations

While the training is designed to teach students how to fly, priming them for transition training at flying training units is a major consideration for PTN officials as they look ahead to the second class.

“In terms of preparing UPT students for the transition to follow-on training, we found we need to build integrated flying training unit teams with representation from 19th Air Force, the different major commands, and the FTUs,” Colborn said. “By having those open lines of communication and refining the training for the later phases of the program, we can smooth the students’ transition out of PTN to the FTUs.”

Creating concrete milestones for students using the PTN curriculum will also be a priority for the next class.

“While individualized training provides uncertainty in terms of a student’s progress, there are ways that can help add certainty to student outflows,” Vicars said. “This will give both the student and cadre a better sense of progression through the program, as well as provide interim goals.”

PTN Moving Forward

Before the next class begins, the PTN team has plenty of work ahead of them to get ready to incorporate the lessons learned, including student selection and partnerships with accessioning sources, Colburn said.

The next PTN class will approach student selection with a more holistic approach, with applicants being selected based on a battery of test results, including psychological, cognitive and intelligence tests, said Vicars.

In a partnership with the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, PTN will also have a simulator-only distance learning program to help determine the value of full access to relevant learning materials and AI-support training.

Engage

Twitter
Not a bad way to cool off in the summer. The 815th Airlift Squadron's Reserve #Airmen visited Alaska to airlift o… https://t.co/DElqEx4JwJ
Twitter
RT @USAFRecruiting: Built different 😤 These @airforcespecwar exercises will put your strength to the test and show you what muscles these…
Twitter
Another Air Force week complete, and we've got it in photos! View the rest here: https://t.co/OkjRFKvDjz https://t.co/HXcWkJN35U
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: On behalf of our #Airmen and families, congrats and welcome to Ms. Jones, our new Under Secretary of the @usairforce. #…
Twitter
Jumping into the weekend Tactical Air Control Party Airmen assigned to the 14th Air Support Operations Squadron pe… https://t.co/VLRxCb90mw
Twitter
RT @HQ_AFMC: Getting ready for the big leap into civilian life? #Airmen preparing to separate from active duty service can take steps towar…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Acting Secretary Roth on the confirmation of Gina Ortiz Jones to serve as the Under Secretary of the Air Force. ⬇️ https…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: Confirmed yesterday by the Senate, Gina Ortiz Jones will be the next Under Secretary of the Air Force! Read more ⬇️ @US
Twitter
The Senate unanimously confirmed Gina Ortiz Jones to be Under Secretary of the Air Force, clearing the way for the… https://t.co/Q8SFw2fq45
Twitter
Hundreds of Airmen participated alongside @USArmy Soldiers in the inaugural Pacific Warriorz 2021 Joint and Total… https://t.co/fAPp4UGjmW
Twitter
RT @US_EUCOM: #JF21-2 is designed to test simulated emergency response procedures, ballistic missile defense & crisis response assistance i…
Twitter
RT @HQ_AFMC: Thanks to the conservation upgrades, Keesler AFB expects an annual savings of 113,840 million British Thermal Units, a 15.8 p…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: .@Spangdahlem_AB was the first wing in @HQUSAFEAFAF capable of Agile Combat Employment. Being agile & persistent is a m…
Twitter
After catastrophic flooding in Germany & Belgium, @Spangdahlem_AB volunteers provide relief. “80% of people on Sp… https://t.co/6roLIRoFT0
Twitter
RT @Southcom: Supporting our partners in #Suriname: A @usairforce C-17 from @TeamCharleston delivered a field hospital to Suriname July 1…
Twitter
Congratulatons! 🎓 https://t.co/dzK8o0E9rK
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: On the latest edition of the Air Force Starts Here Podcast, we discuss the modernization of the @usairforce Career Developm…
Twitter
F-16s from the 555th Fighter Squadron fire munitions at the Graf Ignatievo Air Base range during Thracian Star 21 i… https://t.co/aYEY5PoEWD
Twitter
The #AirForce Civil Engineer Center, in partnership with the USAF Installation Contracting Center, has streamlined… https://t.co/8iFGwfrYHR
Twitter
A-10 Thunderbolt II's auxiliary power unit insulation is on the path of modernization as the Ogden Air Logistics Ce… https://t.co/3vWCDmV8Sf
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,354,129
Follow Us