Boeing Enlarging UK, European Training Footprint

Apache Longbow Crew Trainer

Credit: Boeing

RAF FAIRFORD, England—Boeing is set to grow its training capacity in Europe and in particular the UK as new helicopter and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms built by the OEM arrive in the region. 

With European countries buying new fleets of Apache attack helicopters, P-8 Poseidon maritime patrollers and Chinook heavy-lift rotorcraft, Boeing says demand for training in the region is set to expand. 

And the company’s role in the UK “is critical,” Indra Duivenvoorde, Boeing’s senior director for government services in Europe, told journalists during company briefings held at Farnborough in the run-up to the Royal International Air Tattoo here.

“We have seen that fleet expansions and pilot turnover will drive demand for training for the next decades, and new pilots and maintainers will need to obtain hands-on experience very quickly,” Duivenvoorde says.

Training conducted here on types such as the C-17 airlifter and the P-8 “has applications wider within the region and worldwide,” she added. 

Boeing currently supports several training programs in the UK, including aircrew and maintenance training for the British Army’s Apache, P-8 training for the Royal Air Force (RAF) in Lossiemouth, Scotland, maintenance training for the RAF’s Chinook fleet and the Gladiator joint force synthetic training environment, and RAF C-17 training on a simulator installed at FlightSafety’s facility in Farnborough. Part of the training expansion in the UK includes the delivery of a fourth Longbow Crew Trainer (LCT) for the UK Apache force that will join the three LCTs already at Wattisham Flying Station, home of the UK’s Apache fleet in 2025. The LCT devices enabling pilot conversion to type, conversion to role and refresher training on the complex Apache platform. 

“The introduction of the fourth LCT will allow the [British Army] customers to fly and operate as it would do in the real environment,” says Jake Scott, head of training services at Boeing UK. 

As well as growing the Apache fleet, the company is currently bidding to provide the RAF with a training system for the E-7 Wedgetail airborne early warning aircraft, which will be located alongside those associated with the P-8 Poseidon at RAF Lossiemouth, where the three-strong E-7 fleet will based. This is expected to include a second simulator for the E-7 as there are enough differences between the E-7 and P-8’s cockpits as well as their missions to justify a different simulator solution.  

Boeing also is set to expand the training at Farnborough for the C-17 with additional training aids for ground personnel. The UK-based C-17 training facilities, opened by Boeing through its relationship with FlightSafety in 2012, have trained personnel from several C-17 operators including Canada, Middle Eastern nations, and the NATO Heavy Airlift Wing. But 80% of its utility is now dominated by RAF personnel.

As well as a C-17 full flight simulator, the Farnborough facility also has the only C-17 integrated maintenance procedure trainer anywhere in the world, allowing ground crews to train to perform tasks such as engine ground running. 

Boeing also is hopeful that its provision of training to the UK’s Chinook force also may expand as the company gets ready to deliver 14 new-build Block 2 model H-47(ER)-model helicopters to the Royal Air Force later this decade. 

A new rotary-wing enterprise “could bring a more holistic model” to Chinook training, Scott adds. “We expect a much more consolidated approach to Chinook training that will manifest itself in a number of different ways,” Scott says, adding that this is currently under discussion with the UK defense ministry.  

Across the rest of Europe, it was unclear how training requirements for new arriving fleets will evolve, Duivenvoorde says, but Boeing recently delivered a former Netherlands CH-47D airframe to Germany’s Aero-Bildung GmbH training company to support German training needs ahead of deliveries of the first Chinooks planned for 2027. Aero Bildung is a training partner in Boeing’s Chinook Germany team.

Tony Osborne

Based in London, Tony covers European defense programs. Prior to joining Aviation Week in November 2012, Tony was at Shephard Media Group where he was deputy editor for Rotorhub and Defence Helicopter magazines.