of the students who go on to the FRSs. What we have discovered is that, through this new system, we’re training
the best NFOs that have ever been trained at CNATRA.
What level of cooperation does CNATRA maintain with the Air Force?
BULL: The joint training brought on by the introduction
of the JPATS [Joint Primary Aircraft Training System]
program for the Navy and Air Force has been reduced.
CNATRA and the Air Force still share the same T- 6
Texan II [primary training aircraft] and execute very
similar training curricula for primary pilot training. We
also still have an exchange officer program for instructors. Day-to-day training execution for students resides
with each respective service for execution. I work closely with my Air Force counterparts up in San Antonio to
collaborate best practices.
Does CNATRA have enough instructors, and
how do Reservists contribute?
BULL: CNATRA is currently manned at approximately
86 percent of the instructor requirement. Our instructor shortage is greater in our strike pipeline than in our
rotary-wing and multi-engine pipelines. Currently, we
are approximately 78 instructors short of the [fiscal]
’ 17 requirement, but I anticipate that number to be
reduced with an increase in Marine and Coast Guard
instructors very soon.
The Navy and Marine Corps Reserve programs provide additional instructors in a shock-absorber fashion.
They provide invaluable expertise, experience and leadership, higher flight time totals, advanced qualifications
and consistency that we continuously look back to to
ensure that we don’t relearn lessons. They deliver critical
support to training air wings and squadrons and they’re
most effectively used when a surge is required, normally
delays due to weather or airframe changes. They make
up approximately 10 percent of the manning and, historically, have provided 18 percent of our training.
Has CNATRA experienced funding shortfalls
similar to those that hit the fleet in recent years?
BULL: CNATRA has had the same funding challenges
as the operational forces but, due to the importance of
flight training as an enabler of the fleet aviation readiness, CNATRA funding is kept to an adequate level. As
CNATRA is the seed corn of the fleet, if you don’t provide funding to the seed corn, it creates a ripple effect
that is not easily filled in for years to come.
Backlogs in training are always a challenge.
How does CNATRA deal with them?
BULL: We continuously focus on backlogs. Task Group
Primary, which is the initial flight training for aviators,
We work hard not to pool the students during their
training, but aircraft transitions and weather have
caused that backlog of students. … Sequestration [in
2013] created a huge backlog that we’re just digging out
of right now. When you fly up to 1,200 sorties a day and
you lose a day of training, that creates a divot and, even-
tually, some of that divot can never be filled in.
Is it CNATRA’s role to train enlisted naval air-crewmen?
BULL: Enlisted naval aircrew training is conducted at
the Naval Aviation Schools Command in Pensacola,
Fla., which is under the Naval Education and Training
Command. We are taking Naval Aviation Schools
Command back under the CNATRA umbrella, and then
we’ll have greater cognizance over the enlisted aircrew-men. We currently monitor aircrew production and advocate for aircrew issues that relate to CNATRA’s mission.
Naval Aviation Schools Command also includes
Aviation Pre-Flight Indoctrination and Introductory
Flight Screening [IFS]. IFS is going to be changed
shortly to Naval Introductory Flight Evaluation —
NIFE. I’ve also got cognizance over powered flight in
the Naval Academy and we’re taking powered flight
and NIFE, and there’s going to be more of a CNATRA
flow in which the students will be able to earlier get
used to the way we train and evaluate students. By
the time they get to Primary Flight Training, they will
know how we do business. I think that is going to be
very helpful in the continuity of CNATRA.
The T- 45 is at midlife now. What plans are
there to upgrade it or extend its life?
BULL: The T- 45 intermediate and advanced jet trainer
is expected to remain in service until 2035. In order
to keep the aircraft in service, the T- 45 has undergone
a service life assessment program and we have funded
plans to begin a service life extension program. We’re
also improving our simulator capability through hardware and software upgrades as well as investing in that
virtual reality capability that I spoke to earlier.
The Navy has taken delivery of the last T-6B.
How successful has that been as a replacement
for the T-34C?
BULL: The T- 34 served us very well for years. Now we
use the T-6A for NFO primary training and the T-6B for
pilot primary training. Single-engine, two-seat primary
training aircraft designed to train the students in basic
flying skills, they’re doing just that and doing marvelous. The T- 6 can maintain a 3,000-feet-per-minute rate