The US Marine Corps is modifying the training syllabus for pilots transitioning to the Bell Boeing MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor to place greater emphasis on simulator time and reduce the number of flights in the real aircraft.
The changes are being introduced as a fourth squadron undergoes conversion training for the MV-22 at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River in North Carolina.
Col Mike Denning, commanding officer of MV-22 training squadron VMMT-204, says evaluation of co-pilots finishing the four-and-half-month syllabus showed that there was scope to move some training sorties conducted in the aircraft to the simulator.
"In the past it was weighted towards the simulator, but we looked at the pilots we were producing and found out that these guys were pretty skilled," says Denning.
"We found out that some of the flights that we were flying in the aircraft could easily be transferred into the simulator, and we ended up saving quite a bit of money."
Transitioning aircrew acquire about 100h of "flight" time, of which about two-thirds are accumulated in the simulator and the rest using VMMT-204's 21 MV-22B Block A Ospreys.
Roughly four instrument and navigation flights that were conducted in the aircraft will now be carried out in the high-fidelity, full-motion simulators at MCAS New River.
"We used to do all the ground portions - where they would learn about the aircraft systems, cockpit management system, low-altitude tactics and formation flying - in one part, and then start flying," says Denning.
"Now we've broken that down a little bit so that they'll get the knowledge on the aircraft systems portion, they'll fly the simulator, they'll fly the familiarisation portion, and then we'll go back to the simulator and build upon that. It's a little bit more 'stovepipe', as opposed to everything being done on the simulator and then pretty much everything being done on the aircraft."
To date three Boeing CH-46 helicopter squadrons have transitioned to the MV-22, the first of which has returned from a seven-month deployment to Iraq. The second is currently operating in Iraq and the third is undergoing pre-deployment training.