Julian Moxon/PARIS

France's army light aviation corps (ALAT) is about to begin work with its German counterpart, the Heeresflieger, on developing the specifications for a major simulation contract for the Tiger anti-tank helicopter.

The simulators will form part of the EFA (Ecole Franco-Allemand) joint Tiger training school now being created at Luc-en-Provence, France, and will be used for training the Tiger pilots of both countries. Germany and France are due to receive their first Tigers in 2001 and 2003 respectively.

The simulator training system is being defined by a joint working group which includes industry. "This is unusual," says Capt Christophe Guyot of the ALAT training school special studies office, "because we are asking industry to come up with more than just the simulators. They will also be expected to help define the best mix of full mission simulators, cockpit procedures trainers and computer-assisted trainers.

"It is a global solution, and the contract will go to the group that offers the most effective, lowest cost way of complementing Tiger flight training. It is a very expensive and complex helicopter and we want to ensure we have the most efficient training system."

Three consortia have been chosen to compete for the contract: CAE, Sogitec and ESG; Thomson Training and Simulation; and Daimler Benz Aerospace. The call for offers was made in January and proposals are to be delivered in December. Final selection is a year later, and entry into service in 2001.

Sources within the ALAT are concerned, however that the requirement for a fixed relationship between the three types of simulator may compromise training efficiency.

"The Tiger represents a totally new culture for us because of the change to a tandem-seat helicopter from our side-by-side Gazelle, which is designed to work autonomously instead of under direct control from the army," says one officer close to the process. "We are worried that there will be a risk of losing training coherence because there is no flexibility to take account of the learning process as the Tiger enters service."

Under current plans, the Tiger training course will last 28 weeks for a crew chief and 19 for the pilot, in addition to the basic helicopter training course taken by all pilots. Up to 215 helicopters are due to be ordered by France and 212 by Germany, although so far each side has ordered only 80 machines.

Source: Flight International