A new simulator designed with the latest training approaches in mind is the physical manifestation of a new customer-oriented business approach at Thales’s UK-based simulation and training arm.
The simulator is designated RealitySeven in a nod to the level-seven requirements of the multi-crew pilots license (MPL), a higher standard than the current level-D. It also represents equipment solutions, one of four elements in the company’s “new reality” initiative whose aim is to improve clients’ business performance.
The modular RealitySeven simulator uses a common core element that is independent of aircraft type along with aircraft-specific modules that can be swapped out to reflect changes in a customer’s fleet or training business. This avoids the need for the entire simulator to be replaced.
Digital electric control loading and electric motion systems mean big reductions in power consumption. New ATC simulation developed with the help of air traffic management specialist Thales ATM supports the new MPL training regime. And application of the latest environmental directives and manufacturing processes means a reduced carbon footprint that could even contribute to customers’ carbon credit programs.
The other three arrows in the new reality quiver–integrated, commercial and support solutions–address the parallel finding of the research: that the company needed to increase its engagement with customers. “This is not just about providing new products; it’s about devising new support services, outsourcing solutions and financing options,” explained Mark Dransfield, strategy director of Thales’s training and simulation business, at the launch of the new reality concept.
Integrated solutions stops short of offering training directly. The company decided 10 years ago that it would not compete with its customers and sold its Orbit flight training operation, but it will do pretty much anything else clients need, from design of training center facilities to infrastructure and operational management to people management and training software solutions.
A third element, commercial solutions, offers help with investment plans, financial models and leasing programs, using Thales’s financial strength to help customers overcome short-term financial constraints.
Completing the portfolio is a range of in-service support solutions with three levels of service. The first, Reality Cover, provided as part of equipment purchases, includes 24/7 support and a range of back-up services. The second, Reality Assist, adds a customer-designed, fully customizable modular support service package. And third, Reality Shield is a comprehensive turnkey maintenance and operational services product for customers who want to outsource significant business elements and transfer a large degree of operational responsibility to Thales.
Thales has invested approximately $150 million in its 18-acre Crawley site, near London Gatwick Airport, over the last three years. The facility, which employs 2,500 people, now includes a 12-bay civil simulator manufacturing hall, with a four-bay military assembly hall next door.
The company had sold 12 RealitySevens ahead of the formal unveiling, including four to Airbus and one to the Aviation Training Center of Tunisia, with the first delivery to Airbus due in August. It subsequently increased its order book to 14 with the sale of two more to Turkish Airlines–one compliant with the Airbus A320 and the other interchangeable between the A330 and A340.