The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is adapting its training patterns to include remote learning to overcome travel restrictions imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This approach recently allowed the RAAF to successfully complete C-27J Pilot Initial Qualification and Loadmaster Initial Qualification courses for No. 35 Squadron crew, despite not being able to travel to the C-27J training facility in Pisa, Italy.

The remote learning approach was facilitated by the students performing much of their learning and flight planning from home. Training was also facilitated by instructional and study sessions held on video call, group message conversations, directed study and students being able to contact instructors outside work hours.

The students who graduated with Pilot Initial Qualification face some restrictions on their category, which will be removed once they regain access to a C-27J flight simulator. The training patterns were adapted for the tactical training phase and international flight operations phases due to the lack of a simulator.  

“We had the opportunity of more flying hours in the actual aircraft and when unrestricted travel to NSW was allowed, we flew to Richmond to conduct live-airdrop missions, which was a highlight,” said Pilot Officer Mitchell Pieper-Miels.

“Continuing these courses and graduating loadmasters and pilots has been an important contribution to No. 35 Squadron capability during these uncertain times,” said CO No. 35 Squadron Wing Commander Scott Egan. “Developing qualified crews provides more flexibility when planning for the squadron and the ability to support more missions and operations as required.”