An Update on A400M Training: May 2013

2013-06-07 At the Trade Media Brief held by Airbus Military on May 20 and 30 2013, Ian Burrett, Head of Training and Aircrew Operations, provided an update on the progress in the program over the past year.

The brief encompassed the entire gamut of Airbus Military programs, but the A400M was the special focus of attention because of the preparation for the coming into service this year with the French Air Force.

Last year, Burrett provided a baseline to understand the approach; and this year looked at the implementation of that approach over the past year.

The key to understanding the approach is that the A400M is built as a common aircraft for all of the multinational partners and customers. 

A key aspect of a number of 21st century military air systems is shaping a multinational common aircraft which allows for the sharing of costs, training and modernization opportunities.

As it was noted in another briefing, “If one customer wishes to change his place in the production schedule it will not have a key impact on A400M production, for the final assembly line is built to deliver a common aircraft.  The customer can request some special additions to the aircraft if he wishes, but the aircraft is not built around customization but commonality.”

This graphic shows the state of play for the infrastructure for the A400M training program, certa 2013. Credit Graphic: SLD 

Obviously, this facilitates training and the capability to deliver a standard product for the various users of the A400M.  The A400M as a multinational product will be built around a core multinational training center with certain customers standing up their own training centers, interconnected with the multinational center.  This provides a significant opportunity for cross-customer learning and lays a foundation for setting up a future users group for the aircraft sharing con-ops learning as well.

In the brief, Burrett discussed the ramp up of A400M training to prepare for the entry into service. 

In addition to the multinational center in Seville centers were being finished in France to support their aircraft and being built in the United Kingdom, with Germany preparing the path for their own center as well.

Clearly, the goal is to shape a sharing arrangement among the training centers to shape improvements in the training process over time, and to integrate operational experience into the training process.

In response to a question, Burrett highlighted that the clear objective was to have a symbiotic process among the centers to ensure that best practices would be highlighted for all the multinational participants in the program.

Another aspect of the multinational character of the program can be seen in the development of the core tools being used in the training process.

In the table below, the key tools, the industrial partnerships to build the tools, and the operational date of entry of those tools are indicated.

Training Aid Industrial Partner Ready Date
Computer Based Training Systems (CBT) Airbus Military and Specialized Sub Contractors 2012
Cockpit Maintenance Operations Systems (CMOS) Airbus Military and CAE 2012
Loadmaster Workstation Trainer (LMWST) Airbus Military and Rheinmetall November 2012
Cargo Hold Trainer-Enhanced (CHT-E) Airbus Military and Rheinmetall April 2013
FP-FTD Airbus Military and Thales
Full Flight Simulator (FFS) Airbus Military and Thales FFS EASA Qualification Interim Level C as of early June 2013
Operational Documentation and Support Airbus Military, Airbus and Cassidian (Spain and Germany) April 2013

The training is built to shape a core team for a common set or fleet of aircraft.

The loading system of the A400M is highly automated, and can be operated by a single person.  As an advanced system, it is important that the training be especially effective with the loadmasters.

And as with most modern training systems, various fidelities are used for parts of the training process to replicate “real life” in order to contain costs but ensure significant training time.  And over time, the balance between the use of simulation and time spent aboard the real aircraft will be defined and adjusted.  For the launch of the initial A400M for the French Air Force, Burrett indicated that the training was done on the real aircraft, as the full simulation system was not yet in place.

The briefing presented by Burrett can be seen below:

An Update on Airbus Military Training Programs, May 2013 from Second Line of Defense

"If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking."

—General George Patton Jr.

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