FlightSafety has lofty plans at Farnborough

 - March 22, 2007, 8:05 AM

FlightSafety International’s business aviation learning center at Farnborough Airport in the UK is expected to open next January. The 80,000-sq-ft facility will house up to 15 full-motion flight simulators, with initial units expected to cover the Gulfstream IV; Citation CJ1/CJ2, Ultra, Bravo and Excel; and Hawker 800XP.

Subsequently, the facility expects to add simulators for the Challenger 604, Learjet 45 and King Air line, as well as the Sikorsky S-76 and Bell 212/412. It may also install some regional airliner simulators, including the Embraer twinjets and Saab turboprops.

After it opens its doors in January, the Farnborough training center expects to add a simulator every couple of months. The first simulators–almost certainly those for the Hawker 800XP and GIV– should be approved for use by next March or April.

According to FlightSafety managing director for Europe Rudy Toering, the difficulties encountered by foreign crews needing to secure visas for training in the U.S. has been a significant factor behind the company’s investment at Farnborough. He told AIN that although the so-called expedited visa-application process has improved the situation for pilots who already hold a type rating for an aircraft weighing at least 12,566 pounds, there are still plenty of headaches. “Frankly, many people are just getting sick of this situation and all the inconvenience associated with coming to the U.S.,” he said.

However, rival flight-training provider CAE SimuFlite told AIN that its non-U.S. clients are no longer experiencing serious difficulties getting permission to come to its Dallas/Fort Worth facility for training. It has no plans to build a training center in Europe.

A Big Draw?
FSI’s training center at Farnborough, 35 miles southwest of London, is expected to draw pilots from across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It is FlightSafety’s second European learning center. In the future, the existing facility at Paris Le Bourget Airport will focus mostly on training for Dassault Falcons and Embraer regional jets. The Paris center currently has simulators for the Citation II and V and the King Air 200.

Toering said another reason for choosing the UK as a site for the new learning center is that FSI has a good working relationship with the British Civil Aviation Authority, through which it has earned the type-rating training organization (TRTO) approval dictated by the requirements of Europe’s Joint Aviation Authorities. Eventually, FSI intends to offer FAA type ratings and recurrent training at the Farnborough facility.

The Farnborough learning center will offer training to European corporate aircraft crews who require only a single type rating. Many of these smaller operators have previously tended to use aircraft for recurrent training, but FSI will try to convince them that its extensive simulator-based programs are more cost effective in the long run.

By offering additional training capacity in Europe, FlightSafety said it will also help business aircraft operators significantly reduce the cost of training. Quite apart from the higher travel and accommodation costs associated with going to the U.S. for training, these operators complain that they lose additional days of flight duty time because their pilots have to allow several days to recover from jet lag after returning from their training.

FSI is currently interviewing candidates to manage the Farnborough center. It is also deciding which currencies to accept for training there, but it will almost certainly take British pounds, the Euro and the U.S. dollar. The pricing structure has yet to be announced.