Two main aircraft manufacturers project a significant pilot demand over the next 20 years (Airbus 540,000 and Boeing 790,000) and following these forecasts aviation training market continues to grow in the next 20 years. Aviation training providers continue to expand their full flight simulator fleet by adding new FFS. The number of the brand new training devices produced in 2018 reached 71 (Number of FFS produced in 2017 was 41). Apart from the brand new training devices, there is second-hand FFS market where you can find true gems. Let’s take a look at the most important things you should be aware of when buying a second-hand FFS to avoid the risks and unplanned expenses.
Check Full Flight Simulator history
Before buying the FFS, you need to run a full FFS examination which consists of two types of audit: FFS documentation check in Configuration Control, Maintenance, Defect log books as well as evaluation of FFS performance by running the quality tests and objective testing.
Any FFS updates are indicated in Configuration Control, software, Data Base log books and maintenance actions are reported in the journals and logs which can be called FFS history. Registration of FFS upgrades is obligatory. You can get these journals and logs from the seller during the audit. Let’s talk about them to find out the most important points.
Trace the certificates back to the birth. Every full flight simulator has to be certified before the operation starts. Here you will find answers to (probably) all the questions about the FFS compliance with regulations. When tracing certificates back to the first initial evaluation, you will find FFS certification history: when the FFS received each certificate, all certification reports, lists of issues to be solved to get the certificate. More information about FFS maintenance and updates can be found in Maintenance and Defects log book.
Maintenance LOG. Engineers taking care of the training devices register every scheduled maintenance in the FFS Maintenance Log. Together with the Defect log, both keep the information of all the issues and malfunctions the simulator ran into. Nowadays these logs are electronic enabling engineers to work much easier, meanwhile, FFS, which are around 30 years old, still have offline printed logs.
The Maintenance Log is a list of regular maintenance jobs done for the FFS. There is all the maintenance data: when the oil in the hydraulic motion system or the projector light bulbs were changed. It is useful when you need to evaluate additional expenses for parts which have a limited lifetime and need to be changed on a regular basis. These parts can significantly raise your expenses. For instance, the projector lamps are cheap and they need to be changed after every 3,000 hours of performance. If a whole projector needs to be changed, it will cost much more than a lamp. The price of a projector is approximately 30-50 thousand euros. Also, check the motion system and the parts with a shorter lifetime limit.
Moreover, look at the configuration control: the operator has to follow regulations and standards, install the latest updates. Attention to details will provide you with additional information to the written one in the log books: all the maintenance work should be implemented following the regulations by qualified specialists. You take your car to an authorized service to have it repaired, so the same is with a simulator’s maintenance – only qualified professionals must make the necessary changes.
The Defect LOG. It is a report where you can find what problems the training device has encountered while operating and when these happened, how fast and how they were solved. You will discover which parts break more often and how the former owner was resolving these issues. The important moment of the examination is the process which follows the EASA CS FSTD standard: 1) Root Cause Analysis; 2) Current operator corrective actions to prevent issues; 3) Current operator preventive actions to remove the issue and prevent FFS from this issue in the future.
In order to evaluate the FFS before buying it, meeting its current owner is essential. Visit the training center and audit the current FFS technical condition. Implement evaluation tests needed: QTG, pilot test, motion system check and the other needed for evaluation. Take photographs of the current FFS condition.
“Some aviation training providers have high qualification specialists who are able to examine and evaluate second-hand FFS, while others are outsourcing this process and buy service from specialists outside the company,” says Eligijus Rocys, SimHelp Product Manager. He notes that time and price balance is important when looking for a second-hand FFS and having reliable FFS part providers who can find your parts fast, offer the best price and deliver any part you need fast are essential.
The current owner will continue to operate the FFS until the contract with the buyer is signed and FFS is relocated. As the current situation during the visit was set, the current owner and buyer have to set up conditions in case any system or part gets broken over this short period of time. For example, you have audited the FFS and there is a system which is not working properly. This is a place to discuss solving the issue with the current owner; ordering new parts, making the discount for the price or taking other measures.
Preparation for relocation
After the purchase, the next and the most important part of the FFS acquiring process starts. It is preparation for relocation and finally transportation.
What is the most important point regarding relocation? It is qualified specialists who prepare the training device to be moved: disassembling into small parts which are convenient to transport, packing of every single detail, transporting to the new owner’s facility, collecting all details back together and preparing FFS for training.
Read more about the preparation for the relocation in this SimHelp article.