The Vector Flying Training Services team comprises Bombardier Military Aviation Training, KBR and URS as shareholders, plus FlightSafety International and Northrop Grumman as partners. The consortium is offering a Northrop training management information system already selected for the US Air Force's Lockheed F-22 Raptor and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

Vector has extensive flight training experience in North America, with Bombardier managing the NATO Flying Training in Canada (NFTC) scheme and URS subsidiary Lear Siegler providing undergraduate flying training for the US Air Force and initial entry rotary-wing work for the US Army, plus to numerous overseas users for both systems.

The UK has been a customer to the Canadian Forces-backed NFTC initiative for some years, with over 100 of its pilots now having completed Phase IV lead-in fighter training on BAE Systems' glass cockpit-equipped Hawk 115s at Cold Lake, Alberta. This relationship will continue until 2011 under current plans. The NFTC set-up also uses the Raytheon T-6A Harvard and Hawk at Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan for Canadian and other users.

With its experience perhaps closest to matching the UK's requirement, Vector has promoted the innovation shown in establishing and running the NFTC. This has included its decision to fund a modification to use the Hawk's cannon pod as an external fuel tank, which enabled the type to achieve extended sortie times and allowed Bombardier to reduce the number of aircraft required to meet projected usage rates over 20 years.

Innovative support and flight line procedures at Moose Jaw also enable the Hawks to meet a turn around time of 12min, and to deliver up to five sorties per aircraft each day. Its maintenance teams can also perform a major inspection of the aircraft in 38 days, against an original benchmark of almost 60, boosting availability rates.

NFTC also makes extensive use of synthetic training devices at both its sites. "The whole focus is to drive time off the aircraft," says Bombardier MFTS project director Ian Milani.

"There is a marked difference between pilots that come out of Canada versus those that come out of RAF Valley," says a UK training industry source not linked to the Vector bid.

FlightSafety also has extensive experience in providing synthetic training, with its Farnborough facilities eventually to house 14 simulators for business and regional aircraft types including the Gulfstream IV, Raytheon Hawker 800 and Saab 340.

KBR is using its background in project management and infrastructure projects.

It remains to be seen whether Vector's wholly offshore composition could damage its prospects of selection, but it notes that its constituent companies already employ 19,000 personnel in the UK.

© Craig Hoyle   
Vector team member Bombardier operates the T-6A as part of the NATO Flying Training in Canada scheme

Source: Flight International