9 Desember 2009
Australia’s Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Mark Binskin, sits in the cockpit of an F/A-18F Super Hornet simulator during a visit to the Boeing [NYSE: BA] exhibit at the Defence Force Air Show at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Amberley in Queensland. (photo : Boeing)
RAAF maintenance workers will begin repairing a fleet of new Super Hornets at Amberley next week, months before the high-tech jets arrive on Australian soil.
Australia is the first country outside the United States to begin training with the Visual Environment Maintenance Trainer - a simulator which will familiarise ground staff with the aircraft in theory and in practice.
From March next year, the RAAF will begin receiving squadron of 25 F/A-18F Super Hornets to replace the F-111 jets which have been in service since 1968 and are slated for retirement.
"In the old days we had a 'chalk and talk' approach to [training] but these days a person has familiarity with the aircraft without having to actually go out in the aircraft all the time," Air Commodore Axel Augustin, director-general of the Super Hornet acquisition program, said of the new simulators.
"Some maintenance you don't do very often so we tend to rehearse the maintenance task before you get to do the task, so we have a safe environment to do that.
"With this you can see things on an aircraft that you can't do normally. You can rotate it around, see how the struts move up and down and the controls move. I'm amazed by this stuff."
The maintenance simulator allows trainees to pull apart and examine any section of the aircraft while also providing animations of how individual parts function, right down to electrical diagrams of detailed circuitry.
Through a system of touch-sensitive screens, RAAF personnel can even use a virtual multimeter to ascertain where an electrical fault has occurred in the simulated craft.
Flight Lieutenant Paul Mulcahy said the Super Hornet acquisition and the new facilities at Amberley were the beginning of one of the biggest changes for the Royal Australian Air Force in recent times.
"In 10 years time we will have a completely new suite of aircraft which will probably make us the most modern Air Force out there, second only to the US,"
"The training we provide is second to none. If you compared us to other training schools they've got nothing like this(VEMT)."
Flight Lieutenant Mulcahy transferred to the RAAF from the United Kingdom 18 months ago, where he served 20 years in the RAF.
"The development and training environment that we have now far surpass anything I've seen before. It makes you wonder what is coming next," he said.
About 400 students are expected to graduate from the F/A 18 Super Hornet training program over the next two years.