Airbus readies to ramp up sim training at newly acquired Aurora center

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Having acquired Denver area flight training center Strategic Simulation Solutions, Airbus is gearing up to add A320 simulator capacity in the next 24 months to address an anticipated boost in demand.

But the airframer tells Runway Girl Network it is also eyeing the addition of other aircraft simulator types “as demand drives requirements”.

Airbus forecasts a need for 122,000 new pilots in the Americas by 2035, representing 23% of the world’s demand. “We want our Airbus flight training facilities to be easily accessible to our customers regardless of their location, hence this latest move,” explains Laurent Martinez, head of services by Airbus,.

At present, Aurora, Colorado-based Strategic Simulation Solutions supports A320 operator Frontier Airlines’ pilot training with two A320 family, FAA Level D full flight simulators.

Airbus has space to grow at newly acquired flight training center in Colorado. Photo: Airbus

The facility has ample room for growth, not only to accommodate the additional sims, but also to bring Airbus’ comprehensive, high fidelity maintenance training on board. The so-called Airbus ACT Suite can be set up within a week’s notice, if Airbus sees the need.

A long term on-site solution (five years renewable), the ACT Suite has been built around Airbus Competence Training (ACT), a learning-by-doing approach based on a combination of theoretical and practical training, supported by state-of-the-art virtual tools. Active learning in a virtual aircraft environment is introduced at an early stage of the training.

Various courses can be delivered through the ACT concept including type-rating and difference courses, recurrent training, specialized courses and practical training on device. “Over recent years, it has proved its efficiency by certifying thousands of maintenance personnel and engineers from all over the world,” says the Airbus spokesman, adding, “Thanks to this concept, real time practice on aircraft is reduced by half.”

If Airbus sees demand, it will also use the Aurora facility to set up its ACT training program. Image: Airbus

Prior to Airbus’ acquisition of privately-held Strategic Simulation Solutions, the airframer has provided training to the North American region primarily from its Miami, Florida-based center, which offers a range of full-flight simulators and computer-based training programs. Each year, the Miami center hosts some 1,500 air crew members from Airbus customer airlines.

The addition of the Aurora facility – which Airbus is calling its first US west coast training center – will help meet long-term growth in expanding markets throughout the Americas. This market is also served with training centers in Mexico City, Mexico and in Campinas, Brazil. At worldwide level, Airbus has more than tripled its training locations in only three years, to a total of 17 locations.

Airbus doesn’t have a preferred simulator provider. “As for simulator manufacturer, Airbus does not prefer one provider over another but rather chooses the equipment based on specific technical requirements,” says the spokesman.

Airbus has grown its training centers from five locations in 2015 to 17 locations today. Image of Aurora facility courtesy of Airbus

Asked if Airbus intends to implement any diversity programs at the Aurora facility, which would help to attract women and minorities, he says, “As the acquisition itself has just been finalized, this aspect has not yet been fully evaluated. However, Airbus has a commitment to diversity among its workforce and its supplier network, and has already launched a series of diversity programs globally.”

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