L3 eyes Asia-Pacific demand
L3 Link Simulation & Training is intensifying its activities in the Asia-Pacific region, which it expects to account for as much as half of global demand over the next decade, writes Emma Kelly.
L3 Link Simulation and Training expects the Asia-Pacific region to account for up to 50 percent of global demand for simulators over the next ten years, and is boosting its activities in the region accordingly.
L3, which completed the acquisition of Thales’ civil aircraft simulation and training business in August 2012, provides total training solutions throughout North America, Europe, Asia and the Pacific Rim.
“Taking historical ratios of aircraft to simulators and the current aircraft order backlog, the estimated demand for flight simulators globally over the next ten years for Airbus and Boeing aircraft types will be in the region of 400-500 units,” says Mitesh Patel, head of the product group of L-3 Link Simulation & Training UK. The Asia-Pacific region will account for 30-50 percent of the global market, he predicts.
Patel points out that the demand for flight simulators depends on many factors, including “economic outlook, regulatory requirements and changes to these requirements, new airplane systems being introduced, fleet composition of airlines and fleet renewal to name a few. All these factors can have a significant impact on what training is required and how this training is delivered,” he says.
L-3 now has about 100 of its supplied full-flight simulator training devices operating in the Asia-Pacific region. It has an Asian Aviation Training Centre (AATC) in Bangkok, which it is continuing to expand to meet pilot training demand in the region. “Our modern training centre, which is located near Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport, provides close proximity for customers, which in turn has helped to reduce training costs for our Asian customers,” he says.
L3 anticipates that requirements for the multi-crew pilot licence (MPL) will account for significant demand, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. Conceding that the global adoption of the MPL has been slower than many envisaged, Patesh says he believes that initial teething issues have been resolved and lessons have been learnt.
“Going forward, L3 Link Simulation & Training UK sees more and more MPL programmes being established across the world, specifically in Asia and South America where the scales of airline growth being seen will result in a requirement for a significant number of additional pilots,” he says.
This will require the increased use of synthetic training devices – particularly those with the functionality to support MPL training requirements, such as threat and error management (TEM). L3 says it has the product capabilities to support MPL programmes and is developing additional products to meet ICAO 9625 requirements.
L3’s product portfolio covers all current Airbus and Boeing aircraft types, including training products for the new Airbus A350XWB twin-aisle twinjet. Patesh says the company has recently added a number of new technologies to its products, including a full-capability briefing station, debrief systems, the use of iPads or Windows tablets for instructors and students, and LED-based visual image projectors on full-flight simulators.
The full-capability briefing station is a PC-based simulator for use during pre-briefs prior to a training detail on a certified device. It provides systems operations capability with a virtual flight deck as the human-machine interface (HMI).
“It replaces the more traditional chalk-and-talk or presentation-based briefing tools by enabling the instructor to demonstrate specific procedures using a full simulation of the airplane system,” says Patel.
Typical uses would include performing standard operating procedures and demonstrating non-normal procedures, he adds. The systems can be frozen at any time, allowing the instructor to provide more detailed information or instruction. “The main benefits are that the students are better briefed on the objectives of the training session and have a better understanding of the procedures to be trained, including any TEM and CRM [crew resource management] elements of the scenario being trained,” he adds.
Meanwhile, the debrief system allows completed training details to be reviewed, with various aircraft parameters recordable, including capturing the video streams to the instrument displays for later playback. “This capability enables the students to be de-briefed on their performance based on objective data and also enables the training organisation to adapt their training programmes to optimise and improve training delivery based on evidence captured during actual training details,” he says.
L3 is also striving to improve the energy efficiency of its products, with its E-M2K electric motion system, for example, representing an energy saving of greater than 80 percent over a traditional hydraulic motion system. In addition, Patesh notes that the current RealitySeven FFS requires 88-90 percent less energy than previous products, while reliability has also been improved – averaging at over 99 percent availability in service.
CAE gains Asian business
Canada-based CAE, a leading global provider of simulation technology, has also been making headway in the Asia-Pacific region.
Announcing its second-quarter results for the 2012-2013 financial year in November, the company reported a 36 percent increase in revenue compared with the year-earlier quarter, rising to C$288 million (US$292.7 million). “Demand for products continued to be robust with 12 full-flight simulator (FFS) orders booked in the second quarter for customers mainly in Asia,” the company said.
In early December, the company inaugurated a new aviation training centre in the Philippines, in partnership with Cebu Pacific Air, the country’s largest airline. The new centre will have the capacity to train more than 2,500 pilots and other aviation professionals per year, initially catering to airbus single-aisle aircraft types.
Later that same month, the company announced orders for four FFSs valued at C$50 million, with two going to China and two to Russia. The sales included the first two simulators for the planned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) C919 jetliner, along with associated training devices and CAE’s Augmented Engineering Environment (AEE).
“We have a long history of co-operation with COMAC’s Shanghai Aircraft Customer Services Co. (SACSC) starting with the development of the first ARJ21 simulators,” said Jeff Roberts, CAE’s Group President for Civil Simulation Products, Training and Services. “We are honoured that SACSC has once again selected us for the development of the world’s first C919 simulators.”