A trainer is a class of aircraft designed specifically to facilitate flight training of pilots and aircrews. Civilian pilots are trained in a light aircraft, with two or more seats to allow for a student and instructor. The aircraft may be modified to withstand the conditions imposed by training flights. The two seating configurations for trainer aircraft are, pilot and instructor side by side, or in tandem, usually with the pilot in front, the tandem configuration has the advantage of being closer to the normal working environment that a fast jet pilot is likely to encounter. It is now the norm for pilots to begin their training in an aircraft with side by side seating. This, however, has not always been the case, given the expense of military pilot training, air forces typically conduct training in phases to eliminate unsuitable candidates. The cost to air forces that do not follow a graduated training regimen is not just monetary. There are two areas for instruction, flight training and operational training. In flight training a candidate seeks to develop their flying skills, in operational training the candidate learns to use his or her flying skills through simulated combat, attack and fighter techniques. Typically, contemporary military pilots learn initial flying skills in an aircraft not too dissimilar from civilian training aircraft. In this phase candidates are screened for mental and physical attributes. Aircraft used for this include the Slingsby Firefly, as at one time used by the United States Air Force Academy. The U. S. replaced the Firefly and the Enhanced Flight Screen Program with the Diamond DA20, at the end of this stage, pilot trainees are assessed as to where their attributes lie, as fast jet, multi-engine or rotary wing pilots. Those who are judged unsuitable for a commission, but show other attributes, may be offered the chance to qualify as navigators. Smaller and more financially restricted air forces may use ultra-light aircraft, gliders, after the ab-inito phase a candidate may progress to basic, or primary, trainers. These are usually turboprop trainers, like the Pilatus PC-9 and Embraer Tucano, prior to the availability of high performance turboprops, basic training was conducted with jet aircraft such as the BAC Jet Provost, T-37 Tweet, and Fouga Magister. Those candidates who are not suitable to continue training as fast jet pilots may be offered flying commissions, examples of such jet trainer aircraft include the supersonic T-38 Talon, the BAE Hawk, the Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet, the Aero L-39 and the Yakovlev Yak-130. Effective combat aircraft are a function now electronics as much as, if not more so than and it is at this stage that a pilot begins to learn to operate radar systems and electronics
Slingsby T-67 Firefly of the UK Defence Elementary Flying Training School, used for training army and navy pilots
Cockpit of the Aermacchi SF.260. Student pilot or PIC in the right-hand seat, where all primary flight instrument are.