Pilot demand in Asia a boon for sim makers

 - June 13, 2007, 11:42 AM

Simulators and other training aids from Thales are set to help carriers in India and the Asia Pacific region meet the demand for pilots to fly the large numbers of new aircraft they have ordered as well as supporting the introduction of the newest airliner models.

Many of the devices are going to airlines in the traditional way, but in a ground-breaking deal struck earlier this year the vendor is to supply around $60 million worth of training equipment for Airbus and Boeing single-aisle and long-range aircraft to India’s Rudradev Aviation.

The contract covers four level-D full flight simulators, one configured to represent each of the following: Airbus A320, Airbus A330-200, Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 777-300ER, along with Thales formation systems trainers (TFST) and flight management system trainers (FMST).

The equipment will be installed in the new Rudradev Aviation training center. Currently under construction in Chennai, southern India, the center will offer training services for airlines from India, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.

“Rudradev Aviation’s training center is an innovative facility for an innovative service,” according to Rudradev Group CEO and managing director R. Ravi. As well as the simulators, it will include briefing and debriefing rooms, classrooms, support facilities and living accommodation. Rudradev Aviation is a subsidiary of the RR Group, which specializes in the development and construction of fully furnished space for IT and ITES companies.

At last year’s Farnborough airshow Thales signed a $24 million-plus contract with the fastest growing of all India’s airlines, Kingfisher, for the supply of two A320 simulators plus a third simulator for the ATR turboprops, an A320 maintenance/flight training device and a turnkey maintenance support package.

“I have personally ensured that every Kingfisher aircraft meets the international standards in terms of safety,” said Kingfisher chairman and managing director Dr. Vijay Mallya. “The addition to our stringent crew training regime of this equipment provided by Thales continues our commitment to customer safety.”

China Needs Training Too
Chinese civil aviation is also booming, and just three weeks ago China’s Sichuan Airlines picked Thales to supply and support two level-D simulators for its Airbus A320 aircraft along with an A320 TFST in a contract worth more than $20 million.

Thales has delivered six simulators to China in the last four years. The two new ones for Sichuan will be installed in a new-build training center in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province. The first should be ready for training by the end of the year.

“We are looking forward to a long and rewarding relationship with Thales,” said Lan Xin Guo, Sichuan Airlines chairman and president. “[It is] an organization that epitomizes our ‘Beautiful Enterprise Culture,’ a culture that is based on value for money for our passengers, social responsibility and economic benefits.”

In March, meanwhile, Singapore Airlines concluded an exhaustive in-plant acceptance of its Thales-supplied A380 full flight simulator. Based on the Thales C2000X system, it is configured with the Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine, a flight crew debrief system, a forward facing instructor operating station and external taxi aid.

Thales built the simulator to the Airbus-defined configuration for interim level-C standard and supplied with PC-based EP1000 and EP10 visual systems. The device incorporates innovative aircraft systems such as the aircraft environment surveillance system (AESS) and network server system (NSS).

After being shipped to the SIA training center in Singapore, the new simulator is due to enter service in August. Full level-D certification is planned for one year later after Airbus makes available final flight-tested aircraft data. Thales is also supplying an A380-configured TFST.

Thales is currently manufacturing full flight simulators for the Boeing 787 as well. Last year Boeing subsidiary Alteon Training added a further three Dreamliner training suites to the six it had ordered in May 2005.

The training suites include full flight simulators, flat-panel trainers and desk-top simulation systems. Alteon plans to install them at training centers around the world that will be central and convenient for 787 operators. All the devices are based on the same PC/Windows NT real-time architecture and the simulators use the Thales EM2K electric motion system.

Last year Sukhoi Civil Aircraft contracted Thales to supply and support training equipment for the Superjet 100 regional jet. An initial contract worth around $33 million covered three training suites, each comprising one full flight simulator and one TFST, with the first simulator due to enter service in August 2008. Thales is also supplying the airplane’s avionics suite.

Thales’ UK-based simulation business is part of the group’s new Security Solutions & Services division. Operational since January 5, the division combines the businesses of Thales’ former Security and Services divisions with those of Alcatel-Lucent’s Transport Systems and Integration & Services divisions. Thales security solutions and services activities around the world now employ 20,000 people in 35 countries and generate revenues of about $4.3 billion.