NAVAL AIR STATION PENSACOLA, Fla., –
This summer -- thanks to a fleet of modified T-1As -- members of the 451st Flying Training Squadron were the first Air Force undergraduate aviation program to formally incorporate electronic warfare fundamentals into its flying syllabus.
The modification added a second student and instructor station in the aft of the aircraft, equipped with a touch screen computer system, allowing instructors to present students with various threat scenarios. Students learn firsthand how to identify and react to threats in a dynamic airborne environment.
It was quickly evident students needed a training device to bridge the gap between the checklist system they were used to and the new computer system. The squadron has a $189K System Integration Lab (SIL), identical to the aircraft's computer system, but it does not have the capacity for continuous student training due to software & hardware testing requirements.
A team recognized the need and created a Part Task Trainer (PTT) as a solution. In less than 30 days their effort resulted in two PTTs made from parts on hand.
"The T-1 Part Task Trainer has really streamlined the transition to the T-1 Mod aircraft. Students now have the ability to familiarize themselves with the preflight and operation of system well before their first flight," said Lt. Col. Hans M. Kimm, 451 Flying Training Squadron assistant director of operations. "The results have far exceeded our expectations. Students that use the trainer are noticeably more confident in flight and on average one or two sorties ahead in performance."
"The T-1 MOD part task trainer provides a significant training capability at near zero cost to the government. This is due to the innovative thinking of our CSO instructors, like Lt. Col. Hans Kimm, making the most of what we have in a cost constrained environment," said Lt. Col. Ryan Conner, 479 Flying Training Group deputy commander.
The team, which consisted of Lt. Col. Hans Kimm, Mr. Jered Ast, Mr. Richard Gean, Mr. Joshua Murray and Mr. Bryan Martinez, used their computer programming expertise, to modify the hardware to accept the unique software from the aircraft's computer systems.
Still a work in progress, the PTTs currently have 75 percent the functional fidelity of the SIL. The team hopes to achieve 90 percent fidelity by April 2014.
So far, more than 50 students have used the PTTs and instructors are noticing that student performance has been distinctly higher and has progressed more quickly than prior to the availability of the PTTs.
In all, the PTTs provide a 75 percent solution for less than 1 percent of the cost of another SIL or simulator. The PTTs are available to students 24/7 and are in nearly constant use.
Additionally, the team achieved another breakthrough by automating the mission debrief download process. Originally, the setup was labor intensive, requiring the instructor to bring the mission computer to the debrief room and manually download and setup the files for debrief. The T-1A Mod team created a network and developed code to automate the process. Instructors now return their mission computers to storage and mission files are automatically delivered to any of the squadron's 14 debrief stations for instructor use. This automation has greatly simplified the entire process saving an estimated 4,000 man hours annually.