The U.S military is increasingly making use of drones rather than manned aircraft. But a new report from the Government Accountability Office suggest that as much as 65 per cent of drone pilots do not get enough training.
The report suggests that pilots in both the Air Force and Army struggle to keep their flight training up-to-date. It explains that "most pilots in certain Army units did not complete fundamental training tasks in fiscal year 2014," while just "35 per cent of [surveyed Air Force] pilots... completed the training for all of their required missions."
Indeed, the report explains that training can't happen because there's a shortage of UAS pilots to provide it. And while those operators do clock up enough hours to keep their skills current, their experience is limited largely to flying missions rather than practicing. Those that should be getting trained often find themselves performing more menial duties instead — perhaps on guard duty, for instance.
As a result, the report claims that the US Air Force has just 85 per cent of the qualified pilots it requires to in order be effective. Fortunately, both Air Force and Army are "taking actions to increase the number of instructors" — but in doing so, the Army's also lowered the level of experience required to teach.
For now, then, "pilots may not be receiving the highest calibre of training needed to prepare them to successfully perform UAS missions." Let's hope that changes pretty soon. [Government Accountability Office via Washington Post via Engadget]
Image by US Air Force under Creative Commons licence