Adam Aircraft has chosen Colorado-based SaferJett to provide training for its aircraft programs. The 10-year agreement, announced at NBAA in Atlanta in September, taps SaferJett for pilot and maintenance training for the A500 centerline-thrust
piston twin and the new A700 VLJ twin. The curriculum will incorporate elements of the FAA/Industry Training Standards (FITS) program, which is designed to enhance general aviation safety.
Among the FITS elements included in the program are learner-centered grading, single-pilot resource management for owner-operators, crew resource management for flight department and fleet operators, and scenario-based training. “These elements are critical in providing a realistic, effective training experience that will properly prepare Adam Aircraft clients for operation in today’s demanding aviation environment,” said SaferJett CEO Paul Hinton. The company is reworking Adam’s FITS-approved program, with an eye toward developing a curriculum that makes better use of the pilot’s existing knowledge.
The Colorado-based company, along with Mechtronix, is in the process of developing the first full-motion level-D simulator for the A700, which will allow pilots to become type rated before flying the actual aircraft. To house the program, SaferJett is building a 50,000-sq-ft “training center of excellence” for very light jets at Fort Worth Alliance Airport, in a building leased from Hillwood Development, a major investor in the training company. The company expects the new facility to be operational by late next year; Adam anticipates certification of the A700 at about the same time. Hillwood, owned by Ross Perot, has also ordered an A700 to lease to SaferJett for eventual use in flight training.
Since 2004, SaferJett has focused its energies specifically on the VLJ market, one reason Adam Aircraft officials chose the company to provide its training.
Training for the A500 is expected to begin this month on a limited scale, Hinton told AIN. “That training will be conducted under Part 61, so it’s in-the-airplane training; later we will change that, but for right now we will either do it in Denver, or we’ll do it where the customer wants,” he said.
The similarities between the two aircraft will pay dividends when it comes to developing the training architecture. “When we get the A700 up and running, a lot of the equipment is economically feasible to purchase, based on the volume of A700 deliveries,” said Hinton. “We’re making it bilateral; it works for the A500 as well. At that point the synergies of having to do both airplanes are great, so the A500 gets an uplift in training that you wouldn’t expect based on the number of deliveries. You wouldn’t expect the kind of equipment we are going to be using on it, but we get it as a natural corollary to the things we’re doing for the A700.”
Hinton sees the mentor-pilot concept taking on a larger role in SaferJett’s training. “There is going to be a great deal of importance attached to [mentor pilots]. You’ve got to give that mentor pilot something to do more than just sit there as a safety pilot. He’s got to be there with a view to filling established objectives. For example, he should have a checklist of things, environments he ought to see this person in that he knows will help him benefit from having his experience in the cockpit with him.”
While Hinton expressed disappointment about losing out on the HondaJet training contract to rival FlightSafety, his vision for SaferJett remains firmly in focus. “We built our business plan on Adam, and like any good business, I tell all the folks that I work with that the objective is to execute on that contract, and that when we’ve executed on that contract, we have earned the right then to go out and look for other business. Sure, we’re interested in Grob and Piper and Epic and Diamond and Cirrus and everybody else who trains in this market, because obviously it allows us to offer the same quality service to a broader base and make the price much more competitive from that perspective.”
With forecasts calling for the ranks of VLJs to begin swelling as the OEMs slowly ramp up production and training companies rush to serve them, Hinton sees safety as crucial to the segment’s eventual success. “I think for all of us, and this applies to Adam or Eclipse or Honda or anybody, we really cannot afford an introduction that is anything less than absolutely safe. We just can’t afford to have somebody doing something stupid with these airplanes. It will impact the whole industry adversely if we allow that to happen, and training is the key to preventing it.”؉