Milestone for RAF College

Instructor Sqn Ldr Ian Birchall and Flying Officer Jake Weeks after the first training sortie in one of RAF College Cranwell's new Phenom ZM333 aircraft used by 45 Sqn. Photo: Gordon Elias EMN-191104-175610001
Instructor Sqn Ldr Ian Birchall and Flying Officer Jake Weeks after the first training sortie in one of RAF College Cranwell's new Phenom ZM333 aircraft used by 45 Sqn. Photo: Gordon Elias EMN-191104-175610001

RAF College Cranwell has seen its first training flight by a student in its new Phenom multi-engine aircraft.

April 3 saw instructor Squadron Leader Ian Birchall, the Phenom Flight Commander for 45 Sqn of 3 Flying Training School, take to the skies with student Flying Officer Jake Weeks on the first multi engine pilot training sortie in the Phenom ZM333 from RAF College Cranwell.

It forms part of the new UK Military Flying Training System. Squadron Leader Birchall said: “It’s an exciting time in flying training right now and it has been a great experience helping to bring a new aircraft into service and then fly the first student sortie. The Phenom is by far the most capable advanced multi-engine trainer the RAF has ever had, and it’s a lovely aircraft to fly.”

Flying Officer Weeks, who coincidentally was the student on the first training sortie in the college’s new Prefect aircraft last year too, said: “I feel incredibly lucky and grateful to be in the position I find myself in.

“The Phenom is a fantastic aircraft and I am looking forward to the rest of my training with 45 Sqn.”

The programme will train 25 multi-engine students a year. Instructors have been developing the system over the last year to prepare pilots for modern front-line aircraft. Gp Capt Eugene Moriarty, Commandant of No3 FTS said: “These first Phenom trainee pilots will be the first to arrive on front-line units having been through the new training system from end-to-end’.