17 Februari 2016
RBAF S-70i Black Hawk (photo : Brunei Times)
Canadian training and simulator specialist CAE is readying its new Multi-Purpose Training Centre (MPTC) in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei, for the arrival of the Series 3000 Level D S-70i Black Hawk simulator during the summer. It will be installed by late October 2016 and will then be used to train pilots who operate the Royal Brunei Air Force’s (RBAirF) 12 recently acquired S-70i Black Hawks.
CAE’s MPTC was completed in September 2014 and was the result of a single joint venture agreement between CAE and the Brunei government’s Ministry of Finance of which the shareholding is split CAE (60%) and MoF (40%). CAE is providing Foreign Direct Investment (DFI) of over USD $100 million, over 70% of which has now been spent with the rest coming over the next six to seven years. In addition to aviation training, it also covers emergency management planning and healthcare training, both throughout the use of specialised simulators.
When Brunei Shell was looking for an alternative solution to travelling to North America for its S-92 training, CAE recognised the opportunity to establish its MPTC explained Kevin Speed, director of the Brunei centre, at a recent demonstration of the centre’s capabilities.
Basing the Series 300 S-70i simulator in Brunei is a calculated move by CAE, as it will join two other simulators already installed at the site when it arrives in June. The first two simulators already on site are the CAE 3000 Series S-92 and the Pilatus PC-7 simulators. The S-92 is housed in a 10 foot dome and delivered on the initial agreement to provide simulator training to for pilots operating offshore operations on behalf of Brunei Shell Petroleum and is now used by pilots from Bristow Helicopters Australia. Other customers include CHC Helicopter Australia, the Australian Aviation Authority and helicopter pilots from China Southern Helicopters.
The S-92 simulator gained its EASA certification in May 2014 and by the end of that year it had also been certified by the Brunei DCA, by CASA and also the CAAC. There is also plenty of potential international business that CAE would like to capture. “Government to government relations between Brunei and countries such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which has 20 S-92s with no simulator,” said Speed. The Royal Thai Air Force also operates its S-92s in the VVIP/medevac role and has shown interest in the MPTC facility.
The second simulator, not housed in a dome, is the PC-7 Flight Training Device (FTD) simulator which is used to train the RBAF’s ab initio pilots. The PC-7 FTD passed the MINDEF acceptance in May 2014 and was operational by November 2014. The RBAirF currently owns four Pilatus PC-7 Mark II training aircraft which it received in 1997 and are flown by the Third Squadron.
In addition to currency and advanced pilot training, one of the PC-7 simulator’s main benefits has been its ability to allow the training staff to screen potential pilots recommended by the RBAirF for their aptitude towards flying before they begin the first stages of ab initio training. Captain Phillip Hird, a Royal Air Force (RAF) pilot on loan to the BuAF who is an experienced Short Tucano instructor and ex-VC10 pilot in the UK, said that within the first two weeks in the simulator those who will not be suitable for further flying duties stand out. “They complete four types of exercise to test for aptitude. Before pilots progressed through to their first solo flight before they were finally assessed. This method reduces wastage in time and cost,” said Hird.
The PC-7 simulator has allowed the RBAirF to condense the training course and reduce live flying considerably. Hird expained that the original training course comprised around 85 live sorties with 70 in the cockpit procedural trainer, that was now reduced to 60 sorties of around one and a half hours in length in the simulator with 42 live sorties. This represents a reduction from 130 hours to 90 hours for each student over the length of their training period.
Another factor in proving the value of the simulator is the fact that there is only one runway in the capital which the BRAirF shares with commercial flights going into the international airport. On occasions, student pilots were having to extend their training flights while waiting for a commercial jet to land. This could lead to undue pressure being placed on them, particularly if bad weather was close by.
The PC-7 is also equipped with cameras and recording equipment so that students who complete their simulator flights can immediately go to the debriefing room and have their flight analysed and their mistakes explained. Speed said that they were able to review these flights later too, so they could learn not to make the same mistakes. In total a full training sortie in the simulator would comprise an hour’s briefing, a two hour flight and a further hour in debrief.
In the final phase of testing, the new Series 3000 S-70i simulator going through its the remainder if its test programme in Montrael, Canada before being shipped to Brunei this summer.
The RBAirF’s acquisition of the new S-70is in 2013 at Brunei’s BRIDEX conference directly led to the replacement of their old Black Hawk S-70A helicopters which were acquired in 1997. The Black Hawk squadron is operationally tasked to deliver troop lift, casualty/medical evacuation, fire fighting, VVIP lift, search and rescue as well as to supply a special forces aviation capability.
As well as training new S-70i pilots, CAE’s S-70i simulator (housed in 12 foot dome) will also be used for mission training including the use of night vision goggles, formation flying, winching/stretcher lift, mountain flying, shipboard and oil rig landings, over water flights and other special force missions. One particular feature will be the chin window in the simulator which is a separate feature and not columnated like the rest of the visual display.
It will also be available to squadron pilots for their twice yearly visit in order to maintain their currency in instrument flying, NVG currency, in-flight emergencies, confined area landings and Crew Resource Management (CRM) training.
The C3000 Series can support many different cockpits. While the S-92 and the S-70i will be the main cockpits in residence from the end of 2016, a whole range of additional cockpits can be brought in to provide the facility with impressive scalability. Additional potential cockpits could include the AW101, AW109/139/169/189, CH-47 Chinook, Mi-17, Ch-53G and NH-90 among others. Any new cockpit would naturally be customer driven.