FlightSafety International might be best known for training flight crew and manufacturing the devices they are taught in. However, an increasingly important piece of the company’s portfolio is maintenance training, which it offers at some 15 locations across North America and around the world.


Source: FlightSafety International

FlightSafety works closely with OEMs to construct training courses, adapting to keep them relevant

FlightSafety maintenance training boasts approvals from nine National Aviation Authorities (NAA) and was the first foreign organisation to receive European Union Aviation Safety Agency 147 accreditation. Many of FlightSafety’s facilities offer pilot, maintenance, and cabin safety training under one roof. However, FlightSafety also operates large maintenance-only centres at Montreal and Wichita, as well as a smaller site in Sunshine Coast, Australia. Meanwhile, in cooperation with local partners it provides training on Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) engines at Botucatu in Brazil, Haikou in China, Cape Town in South Africa, and Singapore.

As with its pilot training programmes, long standing, close ties with manufacturers are vital on the maintenance side too, with FlightSafety working with OEMs to construct each course, and adapt it to keep it relevant. While some of its sites provide training across a variety of aircraft, engine, and component brands, others specialise in just one or two, with Gulfstream, Honda Aircraft, Dassault, Honeywell, Sikorsky, P&WC, and Textron Aviation among the relationships.

DeWayne Dixon, FlightSafety’s regional director of maintenance training, explains how the collaboration works: “As the OEM approved training provider, we use our expertise in training and adult learning combined with the expertise from the OEM in the aircraft to deliver the best maintenance training to the industry.”

The partnership begins with maintenance training development. Work includes developing a training needs analysis, maintenance training manuals, and courseware all done in coordination with the OEM. These are the crucial foundation blocks for any training programme and are the first steps to getting NAA approval. In many cases this process begins prior to the pilot training creation due to the in-depth nature of maintenance training. After course development, training can be provided at its own facilities, although FlightSafety also offers off-site instruction at customers’ premises, as well as interactive, round-the-clock virtual learning.

Gulfstream partners with FlightSafety when it comes to maintenance training. The partnership created the Total Technician Training (TTT) programme that has been running with the Savannah-based manufacturer since the late 1990s – although the relationship with Gulfstream goes back further, to the 1970s. TTT courses are run by experts from both FlightSafety and Gulfstream. Tom Montgomery, manager at the Savannah Maintenance Training Center – which is next to the Gulfstream campus at the Savannah airport – recalls the origins of the TTT partnership, which combines interactive learning with hands-on experience. “Back in 1998, Gulfstream made it clear that they wanted a training partner that would stay focused on training and never let that priority shift,” he says. “We told them: ‘We can do that for you’.”

FlightSafety says those who have completed FlightSafety’s Master Technician paths are among “the best trained in aviation”, becoming “invaluable to their teams, enhancing their contributions to the safety, reliability, and operating efficiency of every aspect they support and maintain”. Graduates can then add further Master Technician certificates, in management, engine, avionics, composites, and cabin systems.

To date, FlightSafety has celebrated almost 6,000 Master Technicians. The programme covers all aspects of the aircraft, engines, airframes, avionics, and cabin equipment. And because the type-specific qualifications are difficult to attain – candidates need to score 90% on each exam – they represent an “investment” in quality training by the customer. A graduation ceremony at each centre held for those technicians who complete the Master Technician Training Path each week adds to the prestige.

P&WC – the Quebec-based division of the RTX propulsion company that specialises in engines for regional, business, and general aviation aircraft – is FlightSafety’s largest partnership in terms of the number of locations at which it offers training. FlightSafety delivers a five-step Engine Master Technician qualification across the manufacturer’s turbofan, turboprop, and turboshaft engines, combining classroom knowledge and hands-on instruction.

As Gulfstream had some years before, P&WC looked in 2010 to outsource its maintenance training provision to a third party. “They had traditionally carried out training themselves, but realised that was not their core business,” says Michael Da Silva, FlightSafety’s Montreal centre director of maintenance training. FlightSafety began the contract in January 2011, developing courseware and qualifying instructors. Given the extensive P&WC installed base, another priority was to “increase our footprint”, says Da Silva.

Over a decade, FlightSafety ramped up the number of P&WC sites from six to 13, with Montreal as “lead learning centre”, and supported by facilities from Cape Town to Queensland and Wichita to West Palm Beach. Its Botucatu centre, run with local firm Aeroglobo, is the exclusive P&WC training provider for Latin America, and offers courses in Spanish and Portuguese. Meanwhile, its Cape Town centre in partnership with AG Aviation delivers P&WC training for the Africa region.

One of the most important innovations FlightSafety has introduced on its P&WC courses is its Virtual Engine Trainer, the tool that creates a three-dimensional, interactive animation of every P&WC engine type. Trainees and instructors can view the inner workings of each engine by zooming into features and even ‘peeling back’ areas of the skin to expose components and sub-systems.

While the technology came into its own during the Covid-19 restrictions on travel and face-to-face learning, it has proved its durability long after the pandemic. One big advantage is that, because the 3D model can be quickly updated every time there is a product design update, “clients are always viewing a representative version of the real engine, even as the engine evolves”, says Da Silva.

The Honeywell relationship is arguably the most diverse, given the range of products the Phoenix-based company is responsible for, including engines, auxiliary power units (APU), avionics and environmental control systems. FlightSafety began working with Honeywell in 2016 and now offers a total of 50 courses, taught by 23 specialist instructors at five locations, with Dallas Fort Worth and Wichita the main ones.

Because Honeywell supplies equipment across multiple OEM platforms, it creates opportunities for customers to combine training in one location. An example of this is the Honeywell HTF7000 engine and 36-150 APU that powers the G280, which creates opportunities for customers to combine training at the Dallas North centre specialising in both Gulfstream airframes and the Honeywell turbofan product line-up, suggests Kevin McWilliams, director of maintenance training.

Other important relationships for FlightSafety include Embraer, Honda Aircraft, Pilatus, Sikorsky, and Textron Aviation. The Dallas North facility caters for the widest range of OEMs and types, including almost the entire Dassault Falcon line-up, Embraer’s Praetor pairing, and the Pilatus PC-24. Its Greensboro site, near Honda Aircraft’s plant, is dedicated to the HondaJet, while West Palm Beach offers courses for a variety of Sikorsky helicopters.

FlightSafety’s Wichita Maintenance Learning Center is the other multi-manufacturer facility. Based in the home of Textron Aviation’s famous aircraft brands, it offers more than 250 courses for Cessna, Hawker, and Beechcraft types, P&WC engines, Honeywell engines APUs and avionics, and McCauley propellers, which are fitted to a host of Cessna, Beechcraft, and other general aviation types.

FlightSafety’s claim is that its maintenance training “goes beyond the basics” and is the “difference between ‘good enough’ and ‘best of the best’.” That is based on its “close collaboration” with OEMs, and programmes that merge in-depth classroom instruction with interactive applied training. That approach, it says, “crafts the ideal balance between academic knowledge and practical experience”.