An analysis of AH-1Z helicopter pilots and qualifications: the impact of fleet squadron training progression timelines
Michalk, Charles R.
Seagren, Chad W.
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Assessing warfighting readiness is critical for the Department of Defense to meet our nation’s security demands. The current readiness system has benefited from technological advancements that enable timely reports; however, the Marine Corps’ thirst for data has increased as policymakers demand evidence with which to make strategic decisions within today’s heavily constrained defense budget. The Marine Corps must therefore search for efficient methods to improve warfighting readiness or risk loss in capability. This research examines pilot qualifications for 111 AH-1Z pilots using data from 2012 to 2017 and compares them with Training and Education Command’s pilot qualification timelines. Despite having a robust data-tracking capability, current methods do not use data to identify minimum, maximum, or average time-to-train for pilots. This study provides an empirical analysis of the data and develops a Markov model for forecasting pilot qualifications. While the data do not capture the true behavior of pilots exiting the system, which resulted in unreliable transition probabilities for the forecasting model, our empirical analysis does reveal that the time-to-train from Pilot Qualified in Model through Section Lead takes, on average, 15.1 months longer than current procedures specify, which leads to an overestimation of pilot proficiency and squadron readiness.
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