WATS 2015: TRU turns training into a ‘Big Three’

The traditional ‘Big Two’ airline training companies, CAE and FlightSafety International, had a strong presence at the record-setting 18th annual World Aviation Training Conference and Tradeshow, otherwise known as WATS, held this week in Orlando, Florida, but a third major player is turning the simulator market into a buyer’s delight.

TRU Simulation + Training, created by Textron a year ago out of the acquisition of the former Opinicus Corporation and Mechtronix, dominated the conference buzz. TRU marked its first anniversary by announcing a pending deal with Pan Am International Flight Academy for an Airbus A320-200 Level D flight simulator using FFS X technology, an RSI image generator, and configured to Airbus standard 1.8.1. The device will be ready for training in September, and will be qualified to both US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Association (EASA) standards. Pan Am is now owned by ANA Holdings and claims to operate the largest, most diverse fleet of full-motion simulators in the world.

FlightSafety International, which has a strong training presence among regional airlines, struck an agreement with Airbus Training Center, also in Miami, for an integrated ab initio training solution to the pilot shortage. Airbus will collaborate with the FlightSafety Academy in Vero Beach, Florida, to offer First Officer, Multi-Crew Pilot (MPL), and a North America Airline Transport Pilot-Certified Training Program (ATP-CTP). Through the programme, candidates with no prior flight time will become qualified as A320 First Officers.

CAE was awarded a contract to update Southwest Airlines’ fleet of CAE-built Boeing 737 simulators in Dallas, Texas, with new Tropos-6000XR visual systems, beginning in mid-2015. Among the features of the new XR system: dynamic shadows which correlate with the position of the sun; more than 250 up-to-date airport databases online via an internet portal; and a software utility which enables the airline to generate ground traffic and scenarios at each airport according to their preferences or training needs without using simulation downtime.

Civil airline full-flight simulation has become a commodity-like buyer’s market, especially in the past couple of years, driving prices down, as several vendors compete for the limited business. Among the other sim manufacturers vying for attention at WATS were Frasca International, L-3 Link Simulation & Training, Rockwell Collins, Lockheed Martin’s Sim Industries, and Venyo Aerospace.

WATS attracted nearly 1,100 attendees, and included more than 100 presentations in conference tracks for regional airline pilot training, major airline pilot training, a Spanish-language track, maintenance training, cabin crew training, and a new helicopter pilot training track.

Rick Adams, contributor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/LARAnews.net
Miami, FL, USA

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