UAL Services is about to install the first of up to 15 new full-flight and fixed-base simulators at its Denver-based Flight Training Center, in a determined attack on the burgeoning US third-party aircrew-training market. The installation, on 15 April, will set a milestone in a $130 million expansion, scheduled to be completed by mid-1998.

UAL Services, a division of United Airlines, says that it is also preparing for the increased needs of its parent airline, as well as to tap into the booming US third-party airline-training market. "We're constantly in a capacity shortfall, so we needed this extra capacity," says Flight Training Services director, Scott Brennan. "UAL is migrating from 'classic' to modern fleets and has simultaneously embarked on a conservative expansion. We also see the industry growing enormously - airlines are realising you have to have the aircraft, but you don't need to have all the associated training and support," he adds.

UAL Services already has 26 full-flight and three fixed-base simulators, making it "-the largest flight-training company for commercial-jet training in the world", claims Brennan. In simulator capacity it will rival the newly formed Boeing/FlightSafety Training International company. The new investment at Denver spearheads the company's aggressive drive for more contracts. Brennan aims to expand the customer base from 150 to 200 by the end of this year. The present simulators have a 90% utilisation rate, and 70-75% of the capacity is for United, says Brennan. With the transition to the modern fleet, he foresees the United share dropping to 55-60% by 1998.

The centre, therefore, will continue to operate simulators of types which United no longer operates, such as the Boeing 727-100 and McDonnell Douglas DC-8-61/71. The workload for some "classic" types, such as the 727-200, is expected to increase following United's decision to hushkit engines and upgrade cockpits throughout the fleet, while the "trickle down" of older types to other airlines is expected to keep the Boeing 737-200 and 747-100 simulators busy.

The first new simulator, a Boeing 777 device, was shipped from Thomson-CSF's UK factory in March and will be rapidly joined by 747-400, 757 and 777 and Airbus Industrie A320 and A319 equipment. "One of the benefits of this strategy is that United previously outsourced its training overflow for some fleets, such as the A320, as they grew. After 1997, 100% of United's training will be able to come in house," says Brennan.

Source: Flight International