RAISING THE BAR FOR PILOTS: Competition and new regulations driving flight simulation and training enhancements
By Rick Adams
Copyright : APS Photo – FlighSafety – TRU Textron Aviation – CAE
A little healthy competition is always good for a market. Not that business aviation training was at any risk of complacency; indeed, it’s a sector that has tended to drive technology and safety innovation. Three years ago, American company Textron, owners of the Beechcraft, Cessna and Bell Helicopter aircraft brands, began a major push into aviation training services when it melded three acquisitions into the TRU Simulation + Training organisation. In relatively short order, TRU has become one of the top three training players, together with Warren Buffett’s FlightSafety International and Canadian-based CAE. TRU has forged a simulator supplier relationship with Boeing on the new 737 MAX and 777X airliners and sold Airbus sims to customers in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America. They’ve also made inroads into the helicopter training market, despite the industry’s depressed oil price doldrums. In 2017, TRU expects to produce about three dozen simulators. In business aviation, TRU is now the default factory-authorised provider of training for new Beech and Cessna models. For example, when the new super-midsize Cessna Citation Longitude is certified, expected late this year, TRU’s ProFlight centre in Tampa, Florida USA will be the first to offer pilot training on the type. The Tampa facility was tripled late last year, growing classroom and simulator space from 15,000 sq ft to 45,000. It opened in 2015, joining the original Pro- Flight site in Carlsbad, California. Together, they offer initial and recurrent training courses for Citation Jet (CJ1, CJ1+, CJ2, CJ2+, CJ3, CJ3+, and CJ4) and Pro Line Fusion-equipped King Air 350/250/90 aircraft, as well as Conquest I and II. A third site, operated under the TRU banner, was opened last year in Valencia, Spain with a Bell 429 full-flight simulator (FFS) qualified to Level D, the highest possible category, by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Valencia might also become the site for TRU’s first business jet training programme in Europe, though the aircraft model is yet to be decided. There is speculation as well about Textron’s service centre in Singapore becoming a future training hub. David Smith, TRU Vice President of Training Centres, touts both technology and instructor qualifications as TRU’s differentiators. For example, in the new Cessna Citation Latitude (and Sovereign) Level D simulator with Garmin G5000 integrated glass cockpit, recently qualified by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), pilots are presented with “synoptic” graphic representations for systems such as fuel, electrical and hydraulic on their multi-function displays (MFDs). However, “they can go one step lower and see the hidden complexity of the full schematic interactivity,” Smith explained. For example, they might call up a compound failure mode, not scripted in the checklist, but which shows “what systems are going to trip off because of load shedding, what things are going to sequentially illuminate on the CAS (crew alerting system) messages, etc.” The glass-cockpit schematics are produced by the same in-house information technology specialists who develop TRU’s online courseware used in their increasingly popular Current 365 scheme. “Systems proficiency falls off several months after a pilot’s last training event,” explained Smith. “Current 365 allows the client to reference our online ground school content throughout the year, and has a unique email delivery of very quick questions so they don’t lose their sharpness.” When pilots arrive for recurrent training, they can take a test validating the material learned online and move directly into simulator training.“This shortens their stay and makes the event more focused on instructor-led training in the simulators and the check-ride.” TRU also claims to allocate 50% more time in flight simulation training devices during initial type rating than other training providers. TRU hires instructors who are high-hours pilots with “relevant time” in like or similar aircraft. “We find the best talent and make them even better,” said Smith. “We also put them in the cockpit of the aircraft they instruct on as much as we can,” facilitated by access to Textron production demonstrators and the corporate fleet.
FlightSafety has been expanding its Master- Level Advanced Training courses for Beechcraft King Air, Cessna Citation, Dassault Falcon, Gulfstream, and Pilatus aircraft. The courses include Advanced Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (UPRT), Advanced Rejected Takeoff Go / No-Go, Advanced Crew Resource Management (CRM) / Human Factors Line-Oriented Flight Training (LOFT), and Advanced Energy Management. All four courses are available for Gulfstream GV, G280, G450, G550, G650, Cessna Citation CJ3 and Latitude. Advanced Rejected Takeoff Go / No-Go, Advanced Energy Management and Advanced CRM Human Factors LOFT are offered for the Dassault Falcon 2000EX EASy and Falcon 900EX EASy. Advanced UPRT is available for the Pilatus PC-12 and PC-12NG, and is being developed for the King Air 350. FlightSafety’s factory-authorised training programme for the Gulfstream G500 fly-by-wire with Honeywell Symmetry flight deck (scheduled for customer deliveries beginning in 2018) will feature the first business jet simulator equipped with a collimated glass mirror display. Gulfstream is using the simulator at FlightSafety’s learning centre in Savannah, Georgia, during design, development and certification of the aircraft. FlightSafety’s “CrewView” display is claimed to provide “far superior distortion-free optical performance with greater clarity, sharpness, and brightness for unprecedented simulation training fidelity. This improves situational awareness and cueing during critical maneuvers, including visual and circling approaches, taxiing, and turns in flight. Peripheral cueing is also enhanced during maneuvers such as final approach,” according to Daniel MacLellan, Senior Vice President Operations. Earlier this year, FlightSafety initiated G650 training at their learning centre at the Farnborough airport in the UK.
The worldwide business aviation fleet is expected to grow by more than 6,000 additional bizjets in the next 10 years to over 26,000 active aircraft, predicts Nick Leontidis, CAE Group President, Civil Aviation Training Solutions. Correspondingly, growth and retirements will foster demand for more than 25,000 new business jet pilots in the next decade. There are about 45,000 active pilots today. CAE’s technology response to the market is the 7000XR (eXtreme Reality) series, replacing the former 5000 Series full-flight simulators used for many of their business aircraft training programmes. EASA has qualified a 7000XR Gulfstream G650 Level D fullflight simulator at the Emirates-CAE Flight Training Centre in Dubai, UAE.
CAE also unveiled the new CAE Terminal online portal last fall, which Leontidis calls “an improved customer portal aimed at enrichening the customer experience.” The CAE Terminal provides line pilots and flight; department leaders ready access to documentation, training records and scheduling details.
Business aircraft operators are increasingly sending their pilots to Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (UPRT), designed to avoid or safely fly out of loss of control inflight (LOC-I) situations such as stalls, and UPRT regulatory mandates are fast approaching. New EASA rules starting in 2018 require three hours of in-aircraft aerobatic training with an appropriately rated instructor for pilots with commercial or ATP certificates flying multi-crew airplanes. In the U.S., all part 121 air carriers, including those who train under an Advanced Qualification Program (AQP), are required to conduct UPRT beginning March 12, 2019. Citing an LOC-I incident over the Arabian Sea in January involving a Bombardier Challenger 604, John Cox, CEO of Safety Operating Systems, told the Business Aviation Safety Summit that operators “need to focus on high-altitude stalls” because of reduced air density on aircraft performance and aerodynamics. He explained, “The instability at high altitude is something we’re not adequately addressing,” and that many pilots have little or no experience flying aircraft manually above Flight Level 290 because of autopilot practices. Cox recently trained in an SIAI Marchetti S211 jet at Advanced Performance Solutions (APS) in Mesa, Arizona.