In the upcoming years migration of flight simulators is expected to become a highly regular procedure. Starting with such small training devices as flight navigation and procedures trainers (FNTP) and finishing with such giants as full flight simulators (FFS). Wondering why?
This trend has been pointed out in CAT World Civil Full Flight Simulator Census which has identified 1623 FFSs in 2017, an increase of 41 over the last year. With a demand for aviation training emerging at a skyrocketing pace, flight simulators of different types, especially Boeing and Airbus aircraft together counting over 900 simulators currently in service, are being ordered and purchased with increasing frequency. Obviously, the number of simulators is growing in a similar ratio to the number of aircraft in the world. Therefore, it is not a secret that relocation of flight training devices is not only a very expensive service to run (ranging from 200 000 EUR up to 500 000 EUR depending on the type of a simulator, the area of relocation, etc), but also a very complicated and risky process to manage.
Keeping this in mind, SimHelp has decided to release a series of articles focused on simulator’s planning, acquisition and relocation processes. At the very beginning we suggest you getting acquainted with the steps you need to take before acquiring the device and learn several tips how to make the process even smoother.
What are the major steps to take?
Acquisition of a training device is a major milestone for any training centre. With huge investments of money, patience and efforts, it requires serious contemplation prior to arriving at the final decision. Therefore, what are the most important aspects to take into account?
Evaluate the demand. What are your training centre’s needs? Would a new simulator meet them? Proper calculations and specification of the demand are the key steps to be undertaken. Talking about recurrent training for a specific type of aircraft, it is calculated that there is a need of 100 hours in the FFS per one aircraft (approximately 6 crews) annually. Correspondingly, if an airline has a fleet of 20 aircraft, so there would be the need for 2000 hours. Maximally one FFS can be loaded for 7200 hours per year. If we talk about Type Rating training, there is a possibility to fully train crews for 32 aircraft (reaching the number of 7200 hours) in one year. Thus, in case airlines are set to expand their fleets, the training centre should consider expanding the number of its FFSs, calculating whether with currently operated training equipment it will be able to satisfy the demand.
Do a thorough market research. How many training centres own the same simulators at their training bases located near you? Is training on this simulator trending among future aviators? Is it forecast to be popular in the future? In order to take risky steps, you have to be strategically sure about the trends dominating the market. Activity of the closest competitors, a current situation on the market as well as future projections are the factors impacting the value your acquisition will bring.
Pick a proper location. Apart from the fact that flight simulators themselves have to meet a long list of specific requirements, there are also regulations that have to be satisfied in terms of the place it is going to be installed in. Every flight simulator’s manufacturer has its own requirements for the facility, so it is advisable to walk through them and find out in advance if your place is suitable for the simulator to be settled. Consider everything: the amount of light, the level of humidity in the room, the construction of the floor, the power supply needed to run the device, etc. If at the moment of installation the site is not ready for a safe and professional installation, the decision can be taken to delay the shipment of the simulator, which will result in additional costs. In case the training centre is constructing a new training facility and is planning to acquire new simulators, it is suggested contacting manufacturers beforehand to find out the requirements for the facility and develop the building process accordingly.
Choose a reliable Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). Of course, one of the main criteria while choosing an OEM is the price. However, it is important to also consider architecture of a simulator (quality of parts it contains), the terms offered, availability of all certificates, etc. What is more, search for the information about companies on the Internet, touch base your colleagues who have dealt with OEMs earlier, look for recommendations, ask companies to provide you with reference lists, etc.
Peruse the agreement. In fact, your agreement is the only tool you would be enabled to use in case of any extra situations or problems that might come up with your device. Thus, prior to signing the agreement you have to foresee every scenario that could happen and discuss everything in the document. For example, if the supplier is a small company, it is possible that it would not provide you with shipment services, so you have to be careful when signing a contract and pay attention to such details in order not get into trouble with logistics. Also, it is important to double check if certification of the simulator meets the requirement of the region. What is more, make sure you know all the peculiarities regarding the time the warranty for the device is valid, what it includes (e.g. maintenance during/after warranty period).
Acquisition of any flight simulator is a breaking point in the activity of any training centre primarily because of investments made in the process. Thus, next time SimHelp will concentrate on another topic related to the transition of flight simulators to help you not to get lost when handling such a project.