Annual Flying Hour Program

SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- Have you ever tried to plan out your life in complete detail day by day for a whole year? "I think on January 15, 2011, I will do my third oil change on my car since I will have driven 15,000 miles up to that point."

Have you ever wondered why we fly so much or so little at times? Here is a little insight into how the 52nd Fighter Wing develops the annual Flying Hour Program.

Earlier in my career, I was strictly a maintenance scheduler, and as such I only dealt with the workings of the particular flying squadron I was assigned to. My job was to ensure preventative maintenance was performed on my aircraft and the weekly schedule was met. As the years passed the Air Force has reorganized, and I now work in the maintenance operations squadron plans and scheduling office. I'm responsible for developing the Wing's annual FHP, the basis of the wing's fiscal year operations.

It all starts in the middle of March every year; we receive the projected amount of flying hours from Air Combat Command, our lead command, and Ready Aircrew Program requirements from the operations support squadron. These are the training requirements of our assigned pilots to become mission qualified and proficient fighter and/or attack combat pilots.

Inputs are also received from each aircraft maintenance unit, the component maintenance squadron and the equipment maintenance squadron. They provide their manning levels and facility capabilities, which project the maximum number of missions they can support in the coming year. Once these are received, the men and women of PS&D go to work on balancing pilot training with aircraft availability and manning levels to achieve the projected flying hour goal from ACC. We then develop detailed month-by-month and day-by-day annual schedules to evaluate different ways to reach the end goal.

These projected schedules are forwarded to both the maintenance group commander and the operations group commander for their approval before forwarding to the wing commander. The process continues throughout the summer until Spangdahlem requests and receives the official FHP from ACC telling us how many flying hours the 52nd FW will generate the next fiscal year. My office makes adjustments along the way accounting for challenges like TDYs, deployments and aircraft modifications when they present themselves.

However, the FHP doesn't only affect the maintainers and the pilots, it affects the entire base. Walk around the base sometime, and notice the change when we fly at night or if we are flying a sortie surge or exercise. How about when the aircraft are gone flying in another part of the world? These all affect each work center in the 52nd FW in one way or another.

Rest assured that the men and women of 52nd MOS PS&D are working hard to develop the most efficient schedules to keep our aircraft flying and our pilots trained.