Back in the future
7. December 2022
8. December 2022
Transport aircraft deliver supplies to the armed forces, even in the remotest of locations. This is a vital task that hinges crucially on how familiar the operators – from the pilot down to the mechanic – are with the particular aircraft. Simulation technology from Rheinmetall ensures that these professionals receive the very best training.
Whether engaged in collective defence on the outer edges of NATO or rapid response missions on faraway continents, armed forces worldwide need supplies. This is where tactical and strategic air transport, for one, comes in. European NATO countries use various types of transport aircraft for this purpose. These include the A400M, which is currently operated by Belgium, Germany, France, the UK, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey, and Malaysia – with more nations to follow. Germany and France are also forming a joint C-130J squadron. Portugal, Hungary, and the Netherlands will soon deploy the KC-390.
Tried-and-trusted simulation technology from Rheinmetall is used to train the professionals who fly and maintain these aircraft, and to keep them up to speed. “Realistic training systems deliver a comprehensive training experience that doesn’t depend on the original equipment being available,” says Doris Lilkendey, head of the flight simulation products unit at Rheinmetall Electronics, explaining the purpose of the cutting-edge simulators. “Training – even for complex scenarios and emergency situations – can be provided in a safe environment. This means that military personnel are well prepared and well skilled when they go out on their missions.”
Simulation technology covers a broad range, from simple tutorials that can be augmented with state-of-the-art mixed reality technology through to true-to-scale replicas (such as the Training Rig) and complex pilot training in Full Mission Flight Simulators in the premium class. “We are the expert training partner for tactical and strategic air transport,” insists Doris Lilkendey.
Partner for aircraft manufacturers
A close partner of Airbus, the A400M’s manufacturer, Rheinmetall plays a key role in training the crews of the European transport aircraft. The same goes for the C-130J produced by Lockheed Martin. As one of the company’s official subcontractors, Rheinmetall, along with Thales France, has been tasked with certifying and operating the future training centre for the Franco-German C-130J transport aircraft squadron. Certification of the Évreux-based training centre as an Approved Training Organization (ATO / MTO) involves setting up the training organization and subsequently conducting training operations from the end of 2023 onwards with a team of highly skilled instructors.
The long-established aircraft maker Embraer of Brazil has contracted with Rheinmetall to develop and supply all the training equipment for the new KC-390 transport aircraft. This covers the entire spectrum of crew training, from Cargo Handling Station Trainers and Cockpit Procedure Trainers, right through to the Full Mission Flight Simulator, which faithfully simulates all the aircraft’s functionalities and provides the full range of training options. “With our Full Mission Flight Simulators for the KC-390, we have hugely broadened our range of expertise to include pilot training for complex transport aircraft,” says Lilkendey.
Training in authentic surroundings
For practical training of technical cargo handlers and the air-handling staff who operate on transport aircraft, using full-scale equipment is the ideal solution – including the various cargo hold simulators that Rheinmetall has already supplied to almost all the user countries listed above, including for the A400M project. The company has accumulated over 40 years of expertise in simulation technology and is the global market leader in Load Master Workstation Trainers (LMWST) and Cargo Hold Trainers (CHT) for the A400M transport aircraft.
The systems are suitable for basic and advanced training as well as recurrent training and pre-deployment preparation. They also allow difficult manoeuvres such as airdrop procedures to be practiced in complete safety. “The essential purpose of the CHT-E(nhanced) – the highest configuration level – is to provide cargo hold and ground-handling crews realistic with training without having to take up valuable aircraft operating hours,” explains Doris Lilkendey. “The programme includes mission-specific reorganization of the cargo hold, preparation of cargo, loading and unloading, standard in-flight and ground tasks, as well as cooperation between multiple crews.”
The German Airborne Operations and Air Transport School at Altenstadt in Upper Bavaria took delivery of an A400M Cargo Hold Part Task Trainer (CPTT) at the end of September 2022. A second is soon to enter operation at Germany’s Air Transport Wing 62. The CPTTs are tailored to the specific missions of the training institutions. They also allow procedures and configurations for new types of cargo to be evaluated, tested, and verified.
The company has successes to report in the premium class as well. Factory acceptance testing of the first KC-390 Full Mission Flight Simulator was successfully carried out in August 2022 at the Rheinmetall’s plant in Bremen. “The test pilots from Brazil are ecstatic,” reports Lilkendey. “Portuguese and Dutch pilots have also flown the KC-390 in our simulator already and were highly impressed – both with the aircraft and our simulators.” KC-390 pilots receive realistic training in the Full Mission Simulator (FMS), ranging from handling the aircraft and practicing emergency procedures to training for complex mission scenarios, including in-flight refuelling. The FMS was developed in line with international EASA and FAA training standards and will be certified to the highest standard, Level D. Hard on the heels of Brazil, the first customer, Portugal has placed an order for the FMS as well.
Rheinmetall simulation technology
For transport aircraft:
• Embraer KC-390
• Airbus A400M
• Lockheed Martin C-130J
• NHIndustries NH90