JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas –
Air Education and Training Command's Detachment 62 began research into training requirements for emerging electric vertical takeoff/landing, or eVTOL, aircraft with the arrival of a Joby eVTOL aircraft simulator at Joint Base San Antonio-Kelly Field Feb. 4. A second delivery was scheduled for the week of Feb. 7-11.
“Electric aviation will soon revolutionize and democratize air travel," said Col. Don “Stryker” Haley, Detachment 62 commander. "This simulator will allow us to prepare the eVTOL industry and the Air Force to train future operators.”
As the Air Force investigates eVTOL use cases, the limiting factor facing many potential users is how to train enough pilots to meet the future demand. Reducing the training burden is key to meeting this demand, Haley said.
Det. 62’s role in the Agility Prime program is to establish core competencies and develop a curriculum for multi-capable Airmen, or MCA, operators of advanced air mobility (AAM) vehicles, thereby driving operator certification standards. Det. 62 will also train the initial Air Force cadre of operators.
The Air Force, under the AFWERX Agility Prime program, has funded AETC to conduct research measuring how quickly pilots learn simplified controls used by leading manufacturers in the eVTOL arena. By using eVTOL simulators to train experienced and new pilots to take off, fly and land an eVTOL, the service will learn more about prospective training times and learning approaches applied to eVTOL competencies, Haley said.
The arrival of the simulator follows up on Det. 62's participation in the first government remotely piloted flight of a Heaviside eVTOL aircraft in December 2021. Along with industry partner Kitty Hawk and AFWERX's Agility Prime test team, the Det. 62 team worked to draft an initial syllabus for pilot testing and training. They also observed, gathered data, reviewed training processes, and conducted detailed debriefs along the way.
Agility Prime is a collaborative initiative led by the Air Force Research Lab to create revolutionary military acquisition and airpower concepts by accelerating the growth of the commercial transformative vertical flight market. The Air Force intends to energize the commercial market using unique Department of Defense (DoD) resources and leverage the market for military advantage.
(Editors Note: Master Sgt. Tim Nissen assisted with this story.)