US Air Force turns to aviation training devices as part of T-1A divestment

The US Air Force has integrated hundreds of immersive training devices that allow physical and visual interaction with flight controls and avionics into its pilot training system as it prepares to hand over its aircraft fleet. aging T-1A Jayhawk trainer aircraft.

More than 200 immersive training devices (ITDs) have been delivered across the Air Force pilot training system, according to a spokesperson for the Air Force Air Education and Training Command.

Earlier this week at EAA AirVenture 2022, Redbird announced that the US Air Force has become the latest service branch to use civilian flight simulation products to train its aspiring pilots. Redbird delivered a prototype to the Air Force in March, and the service now plans to adopt aviation training devices (AATDs) as part of its initial training plan, the company said.

Redbird training devices will be located at three Air Force pilot training sites: Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma (KEND); Laughlin AFB, Texas (KDLF); and Columbus AFB, Ohio (KCBM).

The decision to incorporate Redbird AATDs into training follows a 2019 decision to divest the Air Force’s aging fleet of T-1A Jayhawk twin-engine jet trainers, the AATD captain said. Air Force Lauren Woods, Air Education and Training Command spokesperson. The aircraft, which is a military version of the Beech 400A, first entered service in 1993 for student training and is now “facing significant modernization bills”, Woods said.

The Air Force’s fleet of 177 T-1A aircraft now has an average age of 24 years.

“The USAF already uses simulators for T-1A training and elsewhere in aircrew training programs, so introducing simulators is not a new concept,” Woods said. “These devices will help us prepare for the disposal of the T-1A aircraft and will provide a full range of simulation capabilities.”

Recently, for example, the Air Force deployed immersive training devices for the B-1B Lancer bomber community, Woods said.

The Air Force plans to begin divesting the T-1 fleet over the next year, decommissioning the first 50 of its oldest and worst-performing aircraft, with a plan to divest all the planes by fiscal year 2025. T-1s used for combat systems officer training at Naval Air Station Pensacola would be retained, Woods added.

“The introduction of the T-1 Mid-Tier Device (MTD) based on the Redbird simulator platform is the first to incorporate a fully functional Mixed Reality (MR) capability that allows crew members to physically interact and visually and monitor interaction with the flight controls, flight management system and avionics while flying in the virtual reality environment,” said Woods. “This training capitalizes on virtual reality while maintaining crew skills and physical interaction.”

The service wants to find a balance between training with simulators and virtual reality and live training in planes.

“Simulators are used in all areas of USAF pilot training,” Woods said. “Low-cost, immersive virtual reality-based training devices have been developed to complement high-end simulation devices by allowing students access to devices for all phases of training.”

Training devices can also provide a superior learning environment than an airplane, according to Redbird CEO Todd Willinger.

“The recognition, adoption and advancement of this vision by the Air Force is a testament to the immense technological innovation of our industry and the ability of flight simulation to provide an effective means of training some of the best pilots in the world. world,” he said.

Julie Boatman contributed

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