Europe continues to be an attractive market for simulator manufacturers.
PERHAPS THE biggest simulation-industry news at the Farnborough air show will come from a company, which is not even exhibiting. FlightSafety International (FSI) is expected to announce on the eve of the show a contract to supply Malaysian Airlines with a Boeing 777 full-flight simulator.
The sale is significant for a company which is better known for building simulators for its own use, apart for the occasional regional- and business-aircraft unit sold to an outside customer.
FSI's success is a blow for industry leaders CAE Electronics and Thomson Training & Simulation (TTS) - both exhibiting at Farnborough - and underlines how competitive the commercial flight-simulation market remains even after the consolidation of the past few years. FSI won the Malaysian order after building a 777 simulator, both for its own training use and to prove that it could match the Level D technology offered by CAE and TTS.
Europe is the main market which simulator manufacturers are trying to reach by exhibiting at Farnborough. TTS will exhibit on the stand of parent company Thomson-CSF (1/C11), the French state-owned electronics giant scheduled for privatisation by the end of 1996, although being the major UK supplier of commercial and military flight-simulators.
Canada's CAE. for the first time, has abandoned the Canadian-industry exhibit area in favour of its own stand (1/C6) among the major Farnborough exhibitors in Hall 1. The company cites as reasons for the move its increasing UK and European commercial and military market presence and the better visibility offered by its own independent exhibit.
US simulator-manufacturer Reflectone is exhibiting at Farnborough for the first time, and also cites the increasing importance of the UK and European market as its reason. The company will have its own exhibit in Hall 2 (2/A14), among the US companies represented by Kallman Associates, as well as a presence in the British Aerospace Defence Park - BAe is Reflectone's majority shareholder.
Evans & Sutherland (E&S) (1/C27) has decided to exhibit its capabilities as an independent supplier of simulator visual-systems and flight-training devices. The US company has previously been represented at Farnborough through its long-term relationship with Rediffusion, which lapsed when the UK simulator-manufacturer was acquired by TTS.
TTS' major exhibit will be a real-time demonstration of its Space Magic image-generator. This is a version of its Space visual running on a Silicon Graphics computer and is intended for low-cost trainers. TTS hopes to make some contract announcements at Farnborough. After a difficult period of consolidation following the acquisition of both Link-Miles and Rediffusion, the company has scored some recent successes, both commercial and military. TTS has been chosen to supply the training equipment for BAe's Nimrod 2000 for the Royal Air Force and will build two full-flight simulators, plus cockpit-procedures and rear-crew trainers, for the upgraded maritime-patrol aircraft. TTS has also sold several Lockheed Martin F-16 simulators to central European and Far Eastern customers, and will be hoping to compete for business with Eastern European countries now seriously considering acquiring Western fighters such as the F-16.
CAE also hopes to announce new contracts at Farnborough. The company has acquired a UK subsidiary, CAE Inverton, and has won several key UK military contracts, including simulators for the Royal Navy's EH Industries Merlin and Westland Lynx helicopters, and another for the RAF's Westland Sea King search-and-rescue helicopter. The company's exhibit will feature a video-wall display of the latest databases available with its MaxVue visual system - the success of which has a major factor in CAE's recent simulator sales.
Reflectone plans to highlight the role of its UK subsidiary as supplier of the $70 million training system for the RAF's 25-aircraft Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules 2 purchase, but will also feature its commercial business. The company has just delivered an Aero International (Regional) Avro RJ simulator to Lufthansa CityLine on behalf of BAe, in a record ten months and a second RJ simulator has just been shipped to Sabena.
Reflectone hopes to announce an order for a military-helicopter simulator from a Far Eastern company, possibly as early as the Farnborough show. The company's UK subsidiary plans to bid against CAE and TTS for the RAF's forthcoming medium support-helicopter programme, which calls for the establishment of a simulator-equipped centre for training of Aerospatiale Puma, Boeing Chinook and EH Industries EH101 crews. Contract award is planned for 1997.
FlightSafety will fire an eve-of-show shot from across the Atlantic, announcing an order from Airbus Industrie for FSI ChromaView visuals to upgrade four A320 simulators.
Source: Flight International