Goodrich’s AIS studies Terprom for trainers

 - July 17, 2010, 8:02 AM

Atlantic Inertial Systems (AIS), part of Goodrich Corp., is the provider of the Terprom terrain-referenced navigation system that is installed in many combat aircraft, such as the F-16 and Typhoon, and increasingly in military transports such as the C-17 and C-130. Now the UK company is eyeing a move into the basic trainer world, based on what it sees as a growing need for more realistic training at an earlier stage in the flying training syllabus.

Terprom provides a well-proven capability in many frontline platforms, using radalt data compared against an onboard digital terrain elevation database to provide accurate low-level navigation with no dependence on GPS, terrain-following and obstacle/terrain avoidance warning in all weathers. In Britain’s Royal Air Force, the system is installed on the Hawk advanced trainer as well as all frontline aircraft fast-jets.

In today’s fiscal climate, the world’s air forces are taking a close look at their training budgets with the aim of providing the best possible training at the lowest possible cost. One of the key aims is to download the “top end” of the system as much as possible by migrating training from frontline aircraft to advanced trainers, and then from those trainers further down the chain to basic trainers.

RAF pilots, and those of many other air arms, will use Terprom as a matter of course throughout their flying careers. They are currently introduced to it at the Hawk stage, by which time flying hours dedicated to instruction in its employment are already expensive. Introducing pupils to the system at the basic training stage is seen not only as being highly beneficial to their training, but also saving money in terms of lower flying costs. Furthermore, the system’s considerable safety benefits can be enjoyed at a time in a pilot’s career when they are perhaps of greatest value.

As a consequence of this line of thought, AIS is studying the development of a Terprom system for aircraft in the class of the Tucano, T-6 and PC-21. The challenges are keeping the costs down so it becomes economically viable, and integrating Terprom with the aircraft’s systems, which, by definition, are not as sophisticated or as capable as those of frontline aircraft. Internally funded proof-of-concept work is ongoing, although the Plymouth-based company is confident of having a platform-ready solution in around a year if there is interest.

In the meantime, mainstream Terprom development and implementation continues. AIS is currently supplying Terprom for the newly launched C-130 AMP Hercules modernization and also is upgrading the Terprom ground proximity warning system for the Typhoon with air-to-surface targeting information. The system uses its terrain database and ranging functionality to provide accurate position, elevation and range data of selected ground targets to the aircraft’s attack computer, improving weapons delivery accuracy. This upgrade is expected to be part of the Typhoon’s Future Batch Enhancement program.

In the rotary-wing world, Terprom continues to be one of the building blocks for possible low-level, low-visibility navigation and landing systems, and AIS maintains a close eye on active sensor developments and how they could be integrated with Terprom to make helicopter operations much safer. The company is also examining possible land applications.