L-3’s acquisition last year of UK-based Thales Training & Simulation has broadened its Link subsidiary’s capabilities and truly put it back in the civil aircraft training business. Since the announcement last year, L-3 Link Simulation & Training, an 85-year-old flight training specialist, has won significant new airliner training system business in key new markets.
This week, the company is announcing plans to expand its Asian Aviation Training Centre in Bangkok, Thailand. The facility will offer increased capacity with the addition of a RealitySeven A330 full flight simulator (FFS), an A320/330 aircrew procedures trainer (APT) and an L-3 D.P. Associates pushback and tow training simulator.
The RealitySeven A330 FFS will be integrated with RSI Visual Systems’s XT4 image generator and Projectiondesign’s FL35 wqxga DLP LED projection system. The simulator is set to achieve level-D certification in the third quarter of this year, when the APT also is due to be cleared to start operations as a level-one flight training device.
The expansion of the Bangkok center also will include the upgrade of its ATR42/72 simulator. This will be integrated with RSI’s image generator and projection system.
Meanwhile in China, L-3 Link has opened a new customer support center to provide customers with quick access to simulator spare parts and logistics services. Staff at the new Beijing facility will be better placed to visit the company’s simulator installations in a country with a significant requirement to train growing numbers of airline flight crew. Last month, Sichuan Airlines ordered an A320 FFS, which L-3 Link will install in the operator’s Chengdu facility in time to begin training during the fourth quarter of 2013. This will be the fifth RealitySeven device supplied to China and the third for Sichuan Airlines.
L-3 Link also has continued to have success in the military training sector that has been its main focus in recent years. For instance, earlier this year its HD World solution was applied to support the U.S. Air Force’s network of Mission Training Centers for the F-16 fighter. Under a U.S. government contract, it is also providing full mission trainers for Iraq air force F-16s. The company also has an order for F-16 training devices from Pakistan’s air force.
Last month, Kuwait’s air force began using the new high-fidelity F/A-18C tactical operational flight trainers (TOFTs) developed by L-3. In addition, the company is also under contract to upgrade F/A-18/E/F and EA-18G TOFTs for the U.S. Navy, which will incorporate its HD World visual solution. Also on order is an F/A-18D TOFT that will go to the Royal Malaysian Air Force. In April, the company secured a U.S. Army contract to provide operational flight trainers for Sikorsky UH-60M helicopters operated by Taiwan’s army.
Rounding out Link’s portfolio is its support of the unmanned aircraft training and simulation market segment. Today the company is the prime contractor on the U.S. Air Force’s Predator Mission Aircrew Training System program, having delivered 26 pilot and sensor operator training systems to date.
L-3 Link president Lenny Genna explained that the company is not just a provider of hardware and software. “We don’t just provide simulators. We are fully responsible for training students and we provide instructors and [equipment] maintainers on-site,” he told AIN. For instance, it manages C-17 air crew and maintenance training for the USAF’s air mobility command.
The main thrusts of L-3’s technology development in the training arena are improving the fidelity of its visual systems and delivering training more efficiently. “It’s about how we do more for less and we have been driving the prices of training devices down,” said Genna. “We now can deliver training content to students anytime and anywhere through the use of a comprehensive range of training devices, including the ability to deliver lower level devices based on technology from the gaming industry, which make it less expensive to make revisions and allows students to train more flexibly.” Tablet devices can be used for certain types of procedures and awareness training.