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How the Navy is looking to build better flight training students

The U.S. Navy has graduated its first group of students from a new aviation program aimed at better preparing would-be aviators and flight officers for the rigors of the flight training pipeline.

The Naval Introductory Flight Evaluation, or NIFE, program began in September and 33 students graduated from NIFE in mid-October at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, according to a Naval Education and Training Command release.

NIFE replaces the Aviation Preflight Indoctrination and Introductory Flight Screening programs, which had been used for decades to prepare students from the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard for primary flight training.

While the eight-and-a-half-week program still has students getting their initial flight hours in civil aircraft under the guidance of a largely civilian instructor group, NIFE folds in military procedures earlier than before and screens for airsickness and other disqualifiers with the aim of reducing attrition further into the training pipeline, according to CNATRA.

NIFE aims to help students build confidence earlier and involves a greater focus on Navy Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization, or NATOPS, instead of commercial, off-the-shelf flight training programs.

“Students are briefing, pre-flighting and executing procedures in flight just like they would in Primary, Advanced and the fleet,” NITE director Cmdr. Mark Yates said in the release. “We have essentially moved the learning curve to the left with expectations of higher performance in Primary.”

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