Continuous Maintenance Training Without Limitation
Maintenance training without limitation on real aircraft operation: Despite being high-fidelity replicas, RST's Maintenance Training Rigs (MTRs) and Part Task TrainerS (PTTs) are designed and built for 24/7 hands-on training operation with a lifetime of at least 30 years.
Modern and complex aircraft like the NATO NH90 Helicopter reduce pilot workload by employing high-tech solutions. A flight control computer interprets pilot commands and ensures that the aircraft performs the commanded maneuvers. Elaborate computers monitor the aircraft systems in flight and only highlight to the flight crew when an exceedance of threshold parameters is registered. This level of complexity imposes new challenges on the training of the ground crews.
It has been common practice that whenever an operator fields a fleet of aircraft, one or more of these aircraft goes to ground crew training. So the operational fleet always comes up with one or more aircraft short. Additionally, flight equipment design focuses on lightweight and is constructed for a limited number of flight hours and exchange cycles. This usually results in considerable demand for spares and repairs on the training side. Being original aircraft equipment, both training and the operational side are competing for the limited spare resources. It is not hard to imagine who gets the available spares.
Reiser Simulation and Training GmbH (RST) conducted a Training Need Analysis and proposed the concept of full-scale replica training devices for ground crew training. The company refers to the full-scale replica of an entire NH90 helicopter as Maintenance Training Rig (MTR). Smaller training devices providing only components of the aircraft are called Part Task Trainer (PTT).
Despite being high-fidelity replicas, these MTRs and PTTs are designed and built for 24/7 hands-on training operation with a lifetime of at least 30 years. The MTR concept solves the challenges described above by providing high-end training capabilities without reducing the flying fleet. As the MTR is a different design, there is no competition for spare parts between the training organization and the flight operation should one of the replicated items ever need to be replaced.
Using an original aircraft for training purposes usually comes with comprehensive tasks to ensure and keep the flight-ready status. Before every training session, drainage of oil, release of pressure of the hydraulic system, or drainage of fuel and cooling fluids are tedious and time-consuming tasks. Despite having the same fidelity, the MTR concept is based on dry systems allowing to start training straight away and maximize training efficiency while ensuring environmental protection. This also increases occupational safety by having an isolated training environment.
MTRs and PTTs are designed for line maintenance training skill level based on DEMAR 66 CAT A, CAT B1 and CAT B2. The following skills can be trained exemplary:
- Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) maintenance instructions usage
- Mechanical system familiarization and handling
- Electrical system familiarization and handling
- Avionic system familiarization and handling
- Weapon and Safety system familiarization and handling
- Check of the proper aircraft system function via e.g., control tests and Build-in Tests
- Training of Fault isolation and correction
Based on experience, initial procurement costs are 50 to 70% less than the alternative of using the original aircraft, and this is without any compromise regarding the representativeness of maintenance procedures. Continuous training is realized by using mass consumable items spares stock that keeps consumables always available for training – independently from the original aircraft supply chain.
The MTR design does not necessarily rely on OEM data. The successful NH90 MTR design concept is based on an in-house data gathering process performed on original aircraft using a wide range of technologies, from manual data gathering to high-resolution 3D scanning. This unique data gathering and design approach can be applied on any platform, be it a military transport aircraft like the A400M or a modern start-of-lifecycle airliner aircraft.