Following the inauguration of the Airbus Military Flight Simulator and Crew and Technician Training Centre last October, Andalusia is set to become a benchmark for training in the aeronautical sector and consolidate its presence in the European and international industry. The new facilities have involved an investment of 170 million euros through the Andalusian Regional Government and Airbus Military. The Centre will provide training for future pilots of the A400M and will create around 400 direct and indirect jobs Andalusia now occupies a key role in the European and international aeronautical industry, due to its specialisation in areas such as component manufacturing techniques, aerostructures and flight tests. However, above all its prominence is a consequence of new projects and initiatives which are being developed in Andalusia to convert the aeronautical industry into one of its strategic pillars and a driving force for economic development in the coming decades. Apart from the Centre for Advanced Aerospace Technology (CATEC), Andalusia has also recently inaugurated the Airbus Military Flight Simulator and Crew and Technician Training Centre. Another pioneering facility at an international level, in this case for training of pilots, technicians and aircraft maintenance staff, the new centre is located on the Airbus Military site at San Pablo Sur in Seville, opposite the FAL for the A400M.
It was inaugurated on 15 October by the Minister of Economy, Innovation and Science of the Andalusian Regional Government, Antonio Ávila, and the Head of Airbus Military, Domingo Ureña. The ceremony was also attended by the Chairman of the Andalusian Foundation for Aerospace Development (FADA) and Director of the Andalusian Innovation and Development Agency (IDEA), Antonio Valverde, and the Mayor of Seville, Alfredo Sánchez Monteseirín.
This project is the result of a collaboration agreement between FADA and Airbus Military involving an investment of 170 million euros, with 82 million euros being provided by the Andalusian Regional Government fuunder an agreement with the Ministry of Education. This important investment will have major employment repercussions as it will involve 100 direct jobs (including 14 newly created roles) and another 300 indirect jobs. In economic terms, meanwhile, the Centre will have an estimated turnover of 6 to 8 million euros. The Head of Airbus Military, Domingo Ureña, stated during the inauguration that the facilities are among the most modern in the world and it is the first military simulator centre in Spain. The facility has space for six flight simulators along with an extensive range of computer- based training devices. It will provide training for the crew of the next-generation A400M airlifter, as well as pilots and technical staff of the medium and light families of aircraft developed by Airbus Military, the C295, CN235 and C212. The company confirmed that the centre will also provide training for pilots of tanker aircraft such as the AA 300MRTT and the crew of other platforms equipped with the FITS (Fully Integrated Tactical System) mission systems developed by Airbus Military, which enable aircraft to carry out missions ranging from search and rescue and maritime surveillance through to submarine traffic control and environmental protection.
Domingo Ureña highlighted the “spectacular qualitative and quantitative leap” which the industry has made in the last 25 years, which “has progressed from a dream to a reality”, and the strength of a sector which has continued to grow despite the economic crisis. He also expressed his continued commitment to increased public-private collaboration to stimulate the region’s technological growth and the expansion of the Andalusian business network. “Airbus Military is present in 100 countries with sales of more than 1,000 aircraft, and all of their crews will pass through Seville,” he added. The Regional Minister of Economy, Innovation and Science said that the new centre will make Andalusia “the most advanced pole in Europe” for flight simulation, tactics and training for military airlifter crews and technicians. Ávila stressed the opportunity that these facilities represent for the auxiliary industry and called for the continuation of “common strategies” to enable companies in the sector to further increase their competitiveness, meet the challenges of the economic crisis and generate quality employment. He also stated that the location of the centre in Andalusia reinforces existing infrastructures in the region which position the Andalusian aeronautical industry at the cutting edge of the sector, such as the Aeropolis and Tecnobahia Technology Parks, the creation of Alestis or CATEC. In the opinion of Seville’s Mayor, the centre demonstrates that the Andalusian capital "is not only looking towards the future, but also has much to say in the present day." Monteseirín expressed his gratitude on behalf of the city for the start-up of this project, highlighting that the training centre demonstrates “Seville’s commitment to the consolidation of the extraordinary potential of the aeronautical industry to become one of the main aeronautical poles in Europe." In so doing, the Andalusian capital is continuing its long-running association with aeronautics. Airbus Military Senior Vice President Customer Services Richard Thompson said that 12,000 students have received 25,000 flight hours of training in the company's facilities in Seville since the 1980s. In 2009, a total of 1,100 students received 2,400 flight hours, generating 2 million euros of income for Seville’s economy.
The new Training Centre already has two flight simulators; one recently acquired to instruct crews of the C295 and another for the CN235, which has been operating since 1995 and has already completed 25,000 training hours. The installation of the first flight simulator for the A400M will not take place until mid-2012, however, a matter of months before the first delivery of the aircraft scheduled for late this year. The centre also has three additional spaces for the future installation of further simulators, which will include the simulator for the A300 MRTT and another which will be located in the hangar’s exterior. All these simulators are capable of representing a wide range of operations, along with specialised activities such as flight with night vision goggles, rough field take-offs and landings and air-dropping of loads and paratroopers. The centre is equipped to train more than 1,000 students per year, who will receive 8,000 flight hours and theoretical classes in 22 classrooms with an average of between 6 and 8 participants per class. These will include pilots, co-pilots, crew members, loadmasters, maintenance staff, paratroopers, medics, mission systems operators and in-flight refuelling staff. Highlights among the specialist courses offered include piloting, mission systems operation, in-flight refuelling, maintenance certification and instructor training, among others. Various programmes and devices will be used to train these different flight crew members, engineers and maintenance technicians. One of the most outstanding resources for theoretical training is a flat panel trainer which simulates the aircraft panels on high definition LCD touch-sensitive screens. These devices recreate the cockpit environment and enable simulation of a range of tasks such as changes to radio frequencies and aircraft velocity, rolling angle and course. The centre has a total surface area of 13,000 square metres built on two levels. Apart from the simulator zone and the theoretical training rooms, the facilities also include rooms for the preparation of exercises and analysis of results, maintenance workshops, a storage room for spare parts, a maintenance scale model area and other areas for teaching, management and support staff, a library, rest areas and offices.