The Royal Australian Air Force has taken delivery of the first training device for its fleet of C-27J Spartan – a static fuselage training device.
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The C-27J Spartan fuselage trainer will provide No. 35 Squadron with a dedicated static training device that replicates the cargo compartment of a real aircraft.
The 22.7-metre fuselage was shipped from the US, through the Panama Canal and across the Pacific Ocean, before arriving in Brisbane.
It was then transported by road to RAAF Base Amberley and is now being installed within No. 35 Squadron’s dedicated training building.
The fuselage trainer is due to be commissioned in the second quarter of 2020 and once online will release “real” C-27J Spartan airframes from the need to conduct ground training.
Warrant Officer Glenn Bennet is part of project team within Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group that is delivering the training systems for the C-27J Spartan.
WO Bennet said, "The project scope included the acquisition of a flight simulator, a fuselage trainer and other maintenance training devices. The fuselage trainer is the main body of a modified G.222 aircraft, the predecessor to the C-27J aircraft.
"It is fitted to represent a C-27J cargo compartment utilised to support the training of RAAF personnel."
This includes a working cargo floor that can be used for restraining payloads such as vehicles and pallets, along with a moving cargo ramp and paratroop doors.
The fuselage trainer is also connected to a power source that allows for operation of the interior lighting and alarms. This allows student loadmasters to be run through emergency scenarios in the cargo compartment of the Spartan.
No. 35 Squadron currently relies on using its fleet of 10 C-27J Spartans to also provide workforce training with pilots also travelling to a cockpit simulator in Italy.
While the real Spartans were acquired under a foreign military sales arrangement with the US government, the training devices are being acquired under direct commercial contracts.
L3 Oceania, a subsidiary of the larger L3 Harris company, is providing the C-27J fuselage trainer. The fuselage trainer had previously been installed in a facility in Texas.
Air Force has similar training devices for its C-130J Hercules and C-17A Globemaster workforces.
Officer Commanding No. 84 Wing Group Captain Nicholas Hogan said the C-27J fuselage trainer would have a variety of applications.
“The primary focus for the fuselage trainer will be on the loadmaster workforce at No. 35 Squadron, and technicians will also likely gain familiarity with the Spartan through this device,” GPCAPT Hogan said.
A dedicated C-27J fuselage trainer will also have potential applications for developing new load carrying techniques.
“New vehicles or other payloads that Defence wants to transport on the Spartan can be loaded onto the fuselage trainer, allowing us to produce the documentation required to fly them on a ‘real’ Spartan,” GPCAPT Hogan said.
The fuselage trainer had previously been installed in a facility in Texas. There, it had been used by the initial cadre of No. 35 Squadron personnel to train on the C-27J Spartan, prior to their training being relocated to Australia in 2017.