Prince Charles officially opened L3Harris's new $100 million London Training Centre at Crawley, near Gatwick Airport, on July 10. The center sits adjacent to its new simulator production facility and marks a move out of the nearby Thales facility; L3 (as it was then called) acquired Thales Civil Aircraft Simulation & Training in 2012 but hired a large section of the Thales building, while Thales continued its own military simulation and training activities behind a partition wall until the new L3Harris center was ready.
UK Aviation Minister Charlotte Vere also attended the ceremony, which involved Prince Charles unveiling a plaque after flying an L3Harris Reality Seven A320 full-flight simulator into Glasgow. Charles characterized flying in his day as “by the seat of your pants and by dead reckoning” during the ceremony.
“Our investment in this facility reflects our confidence in the growth opportunities in the UK and the aviation industry, illustrated clearly by the demand for new airline pilots across the world,” said Alan Crawford, president of L3Harris Commercial Aviation. He added that the company built the facility on land where the original Rediffusion sat. “So we are coming back to our spiritual home,” he proclaimed. Already 26 of the company’s airline partners have used the facility, he said, noting the need for the industry to train 30,000 professional pilots over the next five years to satisfy fleet growth (based on aircraft orders) and pilot retirements.
During a tour of the production facility, Mitesh Patel, CTS vice president engineering, said that the company has delivered between 80 and 85 simulators in the past three years. He added that he based the figure on aircraft units only because the modular system mates with a motion system and a visual system at the customers’ premises.
Patel said the production building holds 10 bays, some of which the company could use to supplement the training side of the business with its own simulators, adding additional flexibility. Last year, he said, the company built 22 simulators in Crawley, 18 of which went for customer use and the others for its in-house training business. L3Harris plans to send two simulators—an A320 and a 737—to Arlington, Texas, which previously has housed only military simulators.
Meanwhile, the company continues to expand its training capacity. Crawford told AIN that following the acquisition of CTC at Bournemouth, it has increased the number of pilots trained from 300 to 1,700 a year; it also maintains centers in Portugal, New Zealand, and now Cranfield in the UK, which opened recently. For the U.S. market and China it operates a training center in Sanford, Florida.
Finally, Crawford said the acquisition of Fareham-based Flight Data Services has given it in-depth flight data recorder analysis capabilities, which ties in both with its recorders joint venture with the Thales L3 joint venture ACSS and a new service for airlines to take their data and feed it back into training. With the company’s Ethos software it has partnered with Delta Air Lines in a project to allow pilots to see their own performance on tablet devices.