[3 FTS | 55 Sqn Introduction | 55 Sqn History | Navigator Training]
[Airman Aircrew Training]

No. 55 (Reserve) Squadron
Navigator Training


All navigator students have successfully graduated as junior officers from Initial Officer Training at RAF College Cranwell before they commence their flying training. For the first 8 months, students undertake a common syllabus with the initial phase of their training being flown on the Tutor aircraft. They subsequently move to RAF Topcliffe to fly 21 sorties on the Tucano aircraft. This phase of the course is designed to introduce them to low-level visual navigation techniques. On completion of this phase the students return to RAF College Cranwell for the Basic Dominie Module (BDM). The BDM consists of 6 sorties flown at medium level in the Dominie aircraft introducing all aspects of aircraft systems, radar navigation and mental dead-reckoning (MDR). 
Following the BDM, the students are streamed for rotary-wing, fast jet or maritime disciplines. The rotary-wing students depart for the Defence Helicopter Flying School at RAF Shawbury to continue their training. The fast-jet students remain at RAF College Cranwell for 11 weeks and continue flying on the Dominie learning low-level radar techniques. This is followed by a move to RAF Leeming to complete their training on the Hawk aircraft. The maritime students also remain at RAF College Cranwell flying the Dominie, although in their case this concentrates on the introduction of low and medium-level maritime techniques; this course lasts 12 weeks.
Throughout their flying training, the students continue their development as officers by undergoing outward-bound training, individual and team formal presentations and further staff training. On successful completion of their advanced training, the student navigators graduate with the award of their brevet. They then proceed to an Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) to learn to operate their specific aircraft type.     


Students who are selected for fast-jet training progress to the Fast Jet Training Flight (F Flt). F Flt uses the Dominie aircraft to introduce students to radar interpretation and the management of navigation systems. The course is approximately 11 weeks long and in this time the students fly 13 sorties culminating in a taxing final navigation test and an overseas flying exercise.
The majority of the sorties are high-low-high profiles during which the student has to navigate the aircraft to a low-level start point, fly a low-level route culminating in a target and then recover the aircraft to either a landaway airfield or to base. At all stages of the sortie timing accuracy is vital and students are expected to achieve all timing points to an accuracy of +/- 15 seconds.
The use of the low-level environment places severe demands on the students radar interpretation and their ability to use the radar for terrain avoidance. The students are introduced to radar navigation at medium and low-level using the terrain database feature of the Air Navigation Trainer (ANT) and graduated exercises in the aircraft. F Flt teaching follows the traditional integrated concept whereby a student is taught theory in a classroom then practises in a simulator (ANT) before completing an airborne exercise. Although the ANT mimics the navigation system in the Dominie accurately and its terrain database gives a good simulation of the airborne radar picture, the ANT is only a procedural trainer that lacks much of the dynamism associated with the flying environment.
The flying exercise becomes an essential test of the students understanding of a particular exercise and an opportunity to consolidate all previous instruction. The flying exercises increase in complexity as the course progresses and the students gradually learn to use the navigation system in the aircraft and to develop their airmanship to the point where they can manage complex scenarios based on real-life squadron tasks. On completion of this module, the students move to RAF Leeming where they receive 35 hours instruction on the Hawk. The successful graduates are awarded their brevets prior to a posting to either Tornado GR4 or F3 OCUs.    


If a student is selected to train for the maritime role, then they progress to the Basic Systems Navigation and Advanced Multi-Engine Training Flight (E Flt). The role of E Flt has changed recently with the shift in requirement for navigators amongst the multi-engine aircraft. The maritime course is designed to deliver a navigator student to the Nimrod Operational Conversion Unit (OCU) at RAF Kinloss, with a basic understanding of maritime procedures and the skills to operate as an effective crew member. To achieve this, the course builds on the Basic Navigation Training already given and widens the student's ability to cope with a multi-sensor aircraft and multi-task environment.
The students spend a substantial period of their future careers operating in distant parts of the world such as the Far East or America. The initial phase of the course is designed to prepare the students to get to these places by teaching airways flying and instrument recovery procedures on the Dominie aircraft. These techniques are tested at the end of the course with an overseas trainer, normally over a weekend to somewhere in Northern Europe.
In order to introduce the students to the methods of operating in the maritime environment, they fly 16 sorties - again in the Dominie, which start with an introduction to basic area radar searches. They then learn how to carry out ship homings, Search and Rescue techniques, multiple aircraft operations, emergencies & practice diversions, reactive tasking and multiple re-tasking sorties. The phase culminates in a 'no holds barred' reactive tasking sortie which will test everything that the student has learned throughout the course. As with F Flt, new techniques are demonstrated and practised in the simulator before being carried out in the air.
By the end of their training the students have developed the basic attributes of the maritime navigator namely: flexibility, capacity, decisiveness, self-control, self-confidence, awareness and crew co-operation. All of these are necessary if the student is to become a future Nimrod Crew Captain.   

When required E Flt also train ab-initio air transport navigators and a number of refresher and re-role air transport students. To achieve this there is a strong emphasis towards overseas planning, airways flying and instrument recoveries. Many of the attributes required of an air transport navigator are identical to those of his maritime counterpart, including the requirement to operate worldwide.


Date Last Updated : Monday, December 8, 2003 10:00 AM

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