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Jordan grabs Grobs to revitalise training fleet

Posted 16 April 2018 · Add Comment

The Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) has completely revamped its pilot training system. Jon Lake reports.

The RJAF has replaced Slingsby T-67M260s with Grob G 120TPs and CASA 101s with turboprop-powered Pilatus PC-21s.
Some 13 ex-Emirati BAE Systems Hawk Mk 63s, delivered in 2013, have also been retired.
“The Hawks have been grounded. They didn’t work out well; there were maintenance issues,” explained RJAF Lieutenant Colonel Ahmad Hiari.
This may have been what lay behind Jordan’s April 2016 decision to amend its previous commitment for nine Pilatus PC-9Ms (ordered in August 2015) to eight examples of the higher-performance and more capable PC-21.
Jordan ordered 14 aircraft, plus a self-paced computer-based training (CBT) system and a Frasca flight-training device (FTD) simulator. The CBT system is being used as the standard method for theoretical training and promises to provide more consistency and to eliminate differences.
The aircraft formally entered service in April 2017.
Grob G 120TP deliveries to the Royal Jordanian Air Force have now been completed; the RJAF has graduated two courses of flying instructors and a first ab initio training course is well under way.
The new aircraft serve with No4 Squadron at Mafraq, part of the King Hussein Air College, which has recently been upgraded to full university status working in parallel with the nearby Al-Bayt University.
When students arrive at Mafraq to begin flying training they have already completed one year of academic study, including systems, avionics and an English language course. From December 1 2015, students were able to graduate with a degree in aviation, majoring in air traffic control, navigation and other subjects.
The Grobs have replaced 11 white-painted Slingsby T67M260s that were delivered in 2002, upgraded with a sand filter, cockpit air conditioning and electric trim and flap actuator systems.
They have also replaced eight yellow-painted Slingsby T67M260s used by the Flying Instructors School. These aircraft were delivered in 2011 and had formerly been used by Babcock Defence Services to support UK RAF training. As such, they lacked the sand filter, air conditioning and electrical trim and flap actuators fitted to Jordan’s original Slingsbys.
The RJAF has been pleasantly surprised by its experiences with the new Grobs. Fears that the powerful turboprop-powered, retractable landing gear-equipped and glass cockpit G 120TP might be “too much aircraft” proved unfounded.
“The new generation are good at this, at working with LCD display screens,” Colonel Hiari said, explaining that the chop rate has reduced to about 16%. “The game-changer is the sim, which is almost a full dome simulator,” he explained. “Students come to the flight line better prepared, and the aircraft’s systems help them to keep up and to have better situational awareness.”
The G 120TP is proving to be a better preparation for advanced training on the PC-21, and the PC-21 course will be shorter than that now being flown on the CASA.
So far, the Royal Jordanian Air Force has also been extremely satisfied with the serviceability and maintainability of the new aircraft, and with the customer service it has received.
“The company is very helpful; the company is always there,” said Hiari.
The launch customer for the G 120TP was the Indonesian Air Force, which operates a fleet of 24 aircraft and which has placed six follow-on orders.
Indonesia was followed by Argentina (10 aircraft, plus five options), Mexico (25 aircraft), and Myanmar (20 aircraft). The UK will operate 23 G 120TPs as part of its new military flying training system (MFTS) operated by service provider, Ascent, on behalf of the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and Army Air Corps.
Britain’s QinetiQ has also purchased two Grob G 120TPs as part of its modernisation of the Empire Test Pilots’ School fleet. The Grobs will be used to train flight-test engineers, with the type’s low hourly operating cost allowing students to spend more time in the air.
The G 120TP has also been selected by the United States Army to train its fixed-wing pilots. Grob Aircraft, working with CAE USA, will provide academic, simulator, and live flying training, using a fleet of six aircraft, one flight-training device and one procedures trainer.
On December 10, the RJAF suffered its first G 120TP loss. Both pilots managed to escape before the aircraft hit the ground near Blila in the Governorate of Jerash.
 

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