Hyde-Smith, Wicker, Kelly & Guest Argue Aircraft Still Needed for Pilot Training

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and U.S. Representatives Michael Guest (R-Miss.) and Trent Kelly (R-Miss.) today urged the U.S. Air Force to delay divesting itself of the T-1A aircraft until a new service-wide training curriculum and new training aircraft are ready for delivery.

The Mississippi lawmakers made their case in a letter to Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall, contending that the premature loss of the aircraft could diminish pilot training with an overreliance on simulators instead of actual training aircraft.

“Once the T-1A is divested, prospective mobility pilots will spend much of their training time in simulators and less time flying prior to graduation, a posture that forces significant reliance on the timely maturation of the simulated environment.  If these technologies do not mature on schedule, the Air Force will lose any ability to effectively train pilots in a ‘like-aircraft’ to which they will be assigned post-graduation,” the lawmakers wrote.

“Given the recent media reports of further delays in the T-7A program, the T-1A may be the best defense against unforeseen shortfalls that may adversely affect the pilot training pipeline.  We request that you consider delaying the divestiture of the T-1A, and remain willing to work with you and others in the Air Force to support you in this endeavor,” they concluded.

The T-1A is used at Columbus Air Force Base, three other Air Force bases in Texas and Oklahoma, and at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla.  The aircraft is used in the advanced phase of specialized undergraduate pilot training for students selected to fly airlift or tanker aircraft.

Read a copy of the letter to Secretary Kendall here.