Undergraduate Helicopter Pilot Training:

Consolidation Could Yield Significant Savings

FPCD-80-37: Published: Jan 31, 1980. Publicly Released: Feb 5, 1980.

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Certain details are provided from GAO workpapers that supported previous findings concerning the consolidation of undergraduate helicopter pilot training at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Information was requested on the differences between the Department of the Navy's current training program and the one proposed under consolidation, and some of the intangible benefits the Navy might lose under consolidation.

Savings from consolidation should be more than $63.3 million, the difference between the Navy's cost avoidance of $266.6 million and the Army's estimated incremental cost of $203.3 million is conservative. Both services included costs for training foreign students in their estimates. Such costs are included despite the fact that foreign countries are required by law to reimburse the United States for costs to train their students; the Department of Defense (DOD) has failed to recover all training costs. Neither increased fuel use nor the effects of future fuel price increases should materially affect the overall estimated savings. The basic difference in training programs is that the Navy now uses a combination fixed-wing rotary-wing syllabus to train helicopter pilots, whereas all-rotary-wing syllabus would be used to train its helicopter pilots. The proposed syllabus for consolidating training does provide for training "unique" to the Navy's environment such as carrier landings and this cost is included in the Army's estimated incremental costs. DOD officials believe that fixed-wing training is not essential for training helicopter pilots and that the additional hours spent in a rotary-wing aircraft are more effective in enhancing rotary-wing flight skills than the hours spent in a fixed-wing trainer.

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