The Australian Air Force Cadets (AAFC), Aviation Operations Wing, recently took delivery of four new Diamond DA40 NG aircraft, bringing the total fleet to 12. The recent expansion in the Aviation Operations Wing is symbolic of a transformation across the AAFC in its curriculum and ICT learning systems, with the aim of making the AAFC the best youth development program in Australia. The aircraft are core to the Elementary Flying Training School (EFTS), and currently based on the east coast in EFTS Flights at RAAF Bases Amberley, Richmond and Point Cook. The AAFC EFTS flights cover 70 per cent of the cadet population, with planning commenced to establish a fourth flight at RAAF Base Pearce in the next two years.
The DA40 NG aircraft are leased under a capability support contract with Airflite and are supplemented by other powered aircraft under a Powered Service Provider program, to ensure all cadet wings have access to the powered flying program. In addition to the powered flying program, the AAFC also operates a fleet of 11 DG1000S gliders in QLD, NSW and SA. Outgoing Director of Aviation Operations in Cadets Branch – Air Force, Group Captain Ian Watts, said the aviation program was designed to inspire the young recruits when they first join, and continue to engage them to stay in the years following. Group Captain Watts said that although COVID-19 has inhibited the full realisation of the DA40 aircraft capability, he leaves with fond memories of what the team has achieved and what the future holds.
“Our goal is to offer the best aviation opportunities a young Australian can get. The program aims to give cadets a ‘Cadet Aviation Experience’ flight in the first year, progressing to actually getting their hands on the controls in the second year with a ‘Pilot Experience’ flight. When cadets reach their later years, they have the opportunity to join a two-week powered flying training camp in the school holidays, with the goal of going solo in the Diamond. I have had the opportunity to watch cadets go solo for the first time and that brings back great memories for me. I still remember every moment of when I went solo in a CT4 at Point Cook at 21 years of age on the Air Force Pilots Course – you never forget it. I see cadets at 15-17 years of age step out of an aircraft after their first solo flight, grinning from ear to ear,” Group Captain Watts said.
The Diamond DA40 Diamond Star is an Austrian four-seat, single-engine, light aircraft constructed from composite materials. Built in both Austria and Canada, it was developed as a four-seat version of the earlier DA20 by Diamond Aircraft Industries. By the end of December 2020, 2,200 DA40s had been delivered, including 500 NG models. The DA40 NG comes standard with a choice of stylish and hard-wearing interior materials. For luxurious comfort and style, available features include premium leather interiors in several designs and colors, adjustable pilot seatbacks and lumbar support, electrically adjustable rudder pedals, electric air conditioning, and much more. The DA40 fully integrated G1000 NXi flight deck, incorporating the latest features with optional ultra-precise GFC700 Automatic Flight Control System, offers superior situational awareness, convenience and safety. Available equipment provides Traffic Advisories, Synthetic Vision Technology, Satellite WX and Entertainment, and more.