Quest Flight Training has started training UK Royal Air Force cockpit crews on a refurbished Boeing E-3DSentryAEW1 simulator, which is the Ministry of Defence's latest private finance initiative- (PFI) funded training scheme.

As part of the deal, the flight simulator has been refurbished by UK-based Quadrant Flight Training, which is a joint venture partner in Quest with US simulator visuals specialist Evans &Sutherland (E&S). The contract is worth £55 million ($78 million) over 25 years. The MoD has a five-year option on the deal.

The MoD says the Sentry Aircrew Training System PFI will save 29% over the cost of a conventional training procurement.

Subcontractors include Rockwell Collins UK which has provided software for GPS-satellite navigation equipment; Training Systems Technology which developed the training courseware; and Pennant Training Systems which has supplied the training management information system.

Quadrant managing director Jeff Sandiford says as part of the device refurbishment the company performed a data-gathering flight test to improve modelling fidelity. It also improved the engine model, upgraded computers and instructor's station and added a navigator instructor station, weather radar simulation, and the ability to practise air-to-air refuelling link-ups. The visuals were upgraded to an E&SESIG-4530 image generator and a SEOS180í-wide display.

PFI contractors usually make a portion of their profit from contracting the service to third parties. The French air force has already signed up for training having been included in the programme from the start. Like the RAF's seven Sentrys, the four French E-3Fsare CFM International CFM56- powered. Sandiford says overall Quest is contracted to provide 15 simulator missions a week, each lasting 4h, for 48 weeks a year.

Wg Cdr Trevor Kirkin, acting station commander at RAF Waddington, the Sentry base, says the new simulator allows the transfer of at least 320h training a year from the real aircraft. This improves training quality as scenarios are repeatable and aircraft wear and tear is reduced. RAF Sentry cockpit crews - two pilots, a navigator and flight engineer - do a monthly simulator training session.


Source: Flight International