Defense Infrastructure

Observations on Aviation Training Consolidation and Expansion Plans Gao ID: NSIAD-99-143 July 12, 1999

This report provides information on the Defense Department's (DOD) efforts to reduce the infrastructure that supports initial pilot training. Earlier, GAO briefed congressional staff on its preliminary observations, which were based on interviews with military officials. This report summarizes the information GAO obtained on (1) DOD's earlier efforts to reduce aircraft training infrastructure, (2) the current plans for expanding pilot training capacity, and (3) the likelihood of further consolidations.

GAO noted that: (1) little consolidation activity followed a 1993 directive by the Secretary of Defense that required the services to consolidate initial fixed-wing aircraft training and examine the potential for consolidating initial helicopter training at Fort Rucker, Alabama; (2) consolidation efforts were limited to phasing in a common primary training aircraft, combining follow-on flight training into four common tracks, and exchanging instructors and students; (3) no further consolidation of fixed-wing undergraduate pilot training or rotary-wing undergraduate helicopter pilot training was implemented; (4) the Air Force is expanding its capabilities for undergraduate pilot training because it projects shortages through at least fiscal year 2007 and, therefore, it has increased its estimates of the number of new pilots it must train; (5) the Air Force is increasing its training capabilities by activating additional squadrons at three of its existing pilot training bases and establishing an additional undergraduate pilot training squadron at an operational base; (6) increased navigator requirements have also led the Air Force to expand its capabilities to provide navigator training; (7) cross-service consolidations, where feasible, can reduce excess capacity and increase operating efficiencies; (8) prior base realignment and closure (BRAC) rounds have served to reduce the number of bases used to provide aviation training; (9) however, efforts to achieve such cross-service consolidations as part of the BRAC process have not been successful; (10) further consolidation of aviation training between the services may be difficult to accomplish without authority from Congress for additional BRAC rounds; (11) should such authority be granted, DOD would likely examine the potential for cross-service consolidations in a number of areas, including aviation training, as it did in prior BRAC rounds; and (12) such an examination in the aviation training area would need to address a number of barriers to consolidation that exist, including: (a) the services' differing approaches to their training; and (b) the interrelationships among training approaches, personnel management, and career development strategies.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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