ITEC 2018: Wildcat time shaved in simulator delivery
One of the major challenges facing manufacturers of training systems is the delivery of synthetic training equipment to coincide with operators receiving their operational airframes.
This joined-up delivery process is a high priority for the armed services but it is not always a hand-in-glove situation. Despite this, Leonardo Helicopters remains committed to overcoming this potential obstacle to training delivery.
Brian Marsh, training equipment requirements and capability manager at Leonardo Helicopters, told delegates at ITEC 2018 that the company aimed to deliver simulation solutions before or when the aircraft arrived in service.
He explained: ‘A key requirement, which is a big challenge for us, is our military customers want the training solution [at] the same time as [their] aircraft arrive. They want to be training their crews from the get-go – that’s a real challenge to try and synchronise the simulation with live aircraft.’
Military operators want to marry-up the training of crews in both environments for a wholly immersive and comprehensive experience and while Leonardo aims to meet the demand; the company has to prepare operators for realistic turnaround times, especially when it comes to simulator upgrades.
The target of upgrades being implemented six months after order, which was met with regards to a recent software solution for the UK's Leonardo AW159 Wildcat fleet, has recently been achieved. The Wildcat is used by UK's Royal Navy and Army Air Corps who together, operate 62 aircraft.
Marsh explained that the company managed to hit the three month target of delivering simulation services with the aircraft, ‘we’ve actually managed to beat that with our latest software drop into the Wildcat.’
When Shephard asked about the programme delivery times, Marsh said in beating the six month target: ‘We took three months off it – the Royal Navy got delivery of that particular software variant and the aircraft simultaneously, the army was a month late; in part that was due to the [UK] MoD’s certification process.
‘It was also the fact that we managed to accelerate the software process through the re-host. So, the first [couple of] times we had been re-hosting software [it was] taking substantially longer than it takes now because we are learning better how to effectively re-host and test that [process] more properly,’ he added.
Whilst the exceeding of expectations on delivering simulation solutions close to that of the aircraft delivery was commendable, Marsh commented in a sobering tone: ‘I wouldn’t want to create the expectation amongst our customers now that we can hit [targets] every single time on the nose but I think the three month timeline is certainly realistic.’
In January 2017, Leonardo announced it had been awarded a £271 million deal by the UK MoD to deliver support and training services, including synthetic and ground-based training, for the British Army and Royal Navy the Wildcat fleet.
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