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University Air Squadrons

Volume 406: debated on Monday 9 June 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement of the financial benefits realised in each year since the transfer of the RAF's elementary flying training to the university air squadrons. [117490]

Formal Elementary Flying Training (EFT) has been conducted at the University Air Squadrons (UAS) since 1993. Records of financial benefits have not been kept. However, we have recently studied the benefits of conducting EFT at the UASs compared with providing this training on a regional basis or at central location following recruitment to the Royal Air Force (RAF). The regional option offered no benefits. The central location option did offer a marginal cost benefit, but was not adopted because of the high risk that the removal of flying training from the UASs would render them less attractive to undergraduates and would, consequently, lose the support of universities for the UAS system as a whole. Additionally, there would be a reduction in return of service from graduates entering the RAF through non-flying UASs since these individuals would have to spend several months completing EFT before progressing to the more advanced phases of pilot training.We are transferring the RAF Direct Entrant EFT currently undertaken at the Joint Elementary Flying Training School at RAF Church Fenton to the UASs when the current contract expires early My 2003. This is expected to yield savings of at least £1.5 million a year.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with the Royal Air Force concerning the impact of transferring the RAF's elementary flying training to the university air squadrons. [117491]

None. The recent decision to transfer the Royal Air Force Direct Entrant Elementary Flying Training, currently undertaken at the RAF Joint Elementary Flying Training School at RAF Church Fenton, to the University Air Squadrons was a matter for the Chief Executive of the RAF Training Group Defence Agency. I was briefed on the rationale for his decision and was content.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of students who joined the university air squadrons subsequently dropped out of the programme in each of the past five years. [117492]

Details of students who joined the University Air Squadrons (UASs) and subsequently dropped out are not held. The UASs recruit to an annual target of up to 300 with a view to delivering 80 to 90 graduate pilots for the RAF each year. It is evident from this that the UASs lose some 210 to 220 students each year. These losses include students who drop out for a variety of reasons and those who complete the full term but then choose not to join the RAF or are not selected or are suitable for entry but there are insufficient vacancies. I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 16 December 2002, Official Report, column 520W.