Thales Training & Simulation (TTS) will take over the management of most of the UK Royal Air Force's synthetic training systems on 1 January. The company signed a contract worth around £100 million ($158 million) in October to run 20 simulators in 11 training centres not already contractor managed.

Under the Fully Integrated Aircrew Synthetic Training Service (FIASTS) programme Thales will assume responsibility for the centres in January, but will not become liable for contract penalties until a series of audits are completed, says TTS general manager training services, Justin Walker. TTS will take over site by site, and the transition is due for completion by October 2003.

Simulators include the BAC VC10, BAe Jetstream and Nimrod MR2, Lockheed Martin Hercules and TriStar, Panavia Tornado F3, Sepecat Jaguar, Shorts Tucano and Westland Sea King HAR3/3A. Other simulators could come under the contract as new types enter service.FIASTS is the latest in a line of UK Ministry of Defence simulator service deals funded through the UK's private finance initiative.

TTS has two other such deals, for the RAF's Tornado GR4s and British Army Westland Lynxs. Tornado simulators at RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland, and RAF Marham, England, met the full requirement in October while a third simulator is due to be delivered in December.

TTS chose to build a Lynx simulator with a removable cockpit as the long-term future of the Lynx fleet has yet to be decided. "This will allow us to meet the army's future Lynx needs," says Walker.

Military simulators will become a bigger part of TTS's business, by changing an equal defence/civil division to 60:40 in favour of military contracts, says Jeremy Standen, general manager aircraft systems. He says it is targeting the Airbus Military A400M and maritime patrol aircraft programmes to increase its defence business.

Source: Flight International