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CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION

Background of the Problem

By the time the Wright Brothers made the first successful sustained powered flight, flight training became a major concern for the aviation community. As in every technologically advanced aspect of human life, training devices were used to make training more effective and more efficient. In 1929 Edward Link created the first aviation training device that came close to representing the feeling of flying (Lee, 2002). In less than a century, technology has advanced to the point that pilots can fly in virtual reality. Nowadays, the aviation industry builds training devices that replicate all aspects of an aircraft’s flight envelop, in any condition of flight.

Modeling and Simulation (M&S), by presenting a safe and fully controlled training environment, became so effective that training in the simulator could be transferred to the real aircraft. Both civil and army aviation realized that by taking advantage of the new simulator capabilities, they could also reduce the cost of pilot training. They designed training programs that utilize simulators in every stage of pilot training and “replaced” training hours, flown in the real aircraft, by hours trained in a much cheaper to use simulator (U.S. Army, 2006 and FAA, 2006).

Countries that got involved in recent conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq faced increasing demands upon defense budgets (2006 Jane’s Annual Defence Report, 2006). As a result, their armed forces were seeking ways of avoiding commitments to capital expenditure, turning instead to leasing or payment-by-the-hour contracts with flight simulator manufacturers. At the end of the 21st Century, United Kingdom (UK), Canada, Australia, and United States of America resorted to buying simulator flight hours as a service, and Private Finance Initiative (PFI) was named “the source of simulation” (Walter, 2000).

Researcher’s Work Setting and Role

The researcher has been an active duty Major of Hellenic Army Aviation (HAA) and a pilot of CH-47D and UH- 1H helicopters. He has been Head of the Training Department of Army Aviation Directorate (AAD) at the Hellenic Army General Staff (HAGS). Under this status he had the opportunity to visit many helicopter simulators and training centers in Europe. He has also been responsible for simulator training of the HAA helicopter pilots, including training programs, logistic support, and contract management. This research has been his Capstone Project for his Master of Aeronautical Science, with specialization on Aerospace Management and Aviation Operations.

Statement of the Problem

Technologically advanced Armies have moved toward more simulation training and less cockpit training for their pilots (Oliver, 2007). Also, there has been a tendency for Armies, such as the U.S. Army and the U.K. Army, among others, to utilize PFI to buy turnkey training services from simulator contractors (Oliver, 2005). As this method has significant advantages, it has been expected to spread to other countries, as well. The primary focus of this research was to identify those NATO European countries that their Army Aviation fleet could support the establishment of a privately financed Helicopter Training Center; and whether Greece was one of them.

Significance of the Problem

PFI reduces training costs and frees up overstretched resources, and thus has become very attractive to smaller NATO armies, too. The U.S. Air Force contract management case has shown that an important reason not to resort to such a solution is the possibility of simulator underutilization (GAO, 2006).

Underutilization means that the army that outsources flight training does not use all of the contracted simulator hours. On the other hand, there is a minimum of simulator hours that can be contracted, for the PFI to be viable. Correspondingly, for the minimum contracted simulator hours, there are a minimum number of current pilots for the maximum utilization to be achieved.

PFI contract management is not easy, especially when there are no data from previous experience. This has happened to the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force when they initially contracted services for flight training: Excess simulator capacity had been acquired and funds that could have been applied to other mission requirements had been unnecessarily consumed (GAO, 2006). It is important for a country that seeks PFI solution to be certain that it can support it. This can save time, money and valuable resources.

Limitations

The research has been limited to the European NATO countries. As it was expected, unclassified information on the exact number of current helicopter crews, that each country maintains, had not been found. As a result, the number of helicopters that each country possesses and the announced future deliveries has been used for the purposes of the project.

The research has been limited to Full Flight Simulators (FFS). Other training devices and collective flight training simulators, such as the Aviation Combined Arms Tactical Trainer Aviation Combat (AVCATT-A), has not been included. This by no means underestimates AVCATT’s capabilities to support unit combat proficiency. Collective training can be achieved by a series of High Level Architecture (HLA) designed FFS, connected under the Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS) protocol, as in simulator network (SIMNET). AVCATT can do the same thing more efficiently and equally effectively but it does not support ab-initio pilot training. Thus including AVCATT platforms to the available simulators for training may have led us to erroneous conclusions.

Assumptions

It was assumed that the countries included in the research have, or would have been willing to create, the appropriate organization, mechanisms and procedures to effectively integrate simulator training within their flight training programs. For example, the US Army uses Instructional System Development (ISD) and Systems Approach in Training (SAT) processes to develop and integrate instructional materials to support the learning objectives.

Such a system is vital to determining the exact tasks that must be trained on a simulator to achieve combat proficiency, and thus determining the minimum monthly simulator hours per crew, that the country can utilize.

Obviously, minimum simulator hours depend on the learning objectives, the perceived level of combat proficiency, and other factors unique for each country.

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