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China’s Air Force announces new pilot selection process

Chinese_military_honor_guardThe People’s Liberation Army Air Force will upgrade its pilot selection procedure, adding individual psychological tests and flight simulation to the country’s strictest recruitment process, air force officials have said at a news conference in Zhuhai, Guangdong province.

The PLAAF will mainly recruit two types of pilot cadets in 2015: those who will graduate from high school in 2015 and those who are seniors at the military colleges and academies and will graduate in 2015. According to officials, the high school graduate applicants should be male and 19 years old or below (born after September 1, 1995) with formal household registrations in the areas from which the PLAAF will recruit pilot cadets.

“Compared with the current psychological tests that assess up to 40 candidates each time by projecting questions on the screen, the new platform can examine individual applicants through the tablet computer,” Lieutenant Colonel Xiao Dong, deputy head of the PLA air force’s pilot recruitment bureau, said.

In addition, candidates will face a new test that simulates real flight, Xiao said. The test will start next year at the air force’s Shenyang pilot selection center in Liaoning province.

Currently, applicants for pilot training at the PLA Air Force Aviation University are required to undergo a physical checkup, psychological assessment, background clearance and tests that assess their knowledge of a wide range of subjects, such as Chinese, mathematics and physics.

Wang Ya’nan, deputy editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, said the improvement to the pilot selection process indicates the PLA air force is putting more emphasis on pilots’ psychological quality and quick reaction capability.

“Today’s air operations often take place within less than one minute, requiring pilots to make a decision and take appropriate action in a very short time,” he said. “Therefore a pilot must be very good in responding to contingencies and have outstanding psychological qualities.”

PLA air force spokesman Colonel Shen Jinke said at the news conference that the air force will deepen the reform on its pilot selection process. He added that the move aims to attract more talented people to serve in the air force, which plans to own an integrated air and space capability and balanced strength in both defensive and offensive operations as President Xi Jinping has requested.