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RNSFDO Flight Deck Officer Simulator
Graphics from the  FDO Simulator
PO Tony Cocker showing Capt Ade Orchard OBE the FDO Simulator
RNSFDO Flight Deck Officer Simulator
Lt Rich Turrell, Tim Kingswell, Capt Ade Orchard, Ben Webb and Lt Neil Harris


Published: 19 Nov 2015

Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose has marshalled in a new Flight Deck Training Simulator, which is set to train-up crews for the new HMS Queen Elizabeth class Aircraft Carriers, as well as the Type 45 Destroyers, Type 23 Frigates and in the future Type 26 Combat Ships and MARS Tankers.


At a small ceremony on the Fleet Air Arm’s West Cornwall Air Station, Captain Ade Orchard OBE, Commanding Officer of RNAS Culdrose proudly opened the new facility. It replaces a much older trainer system that was proving unreliable when installing updated technical information.


Working alongside the Royal Navy’s School of Flight Deck Operations (RNSFDO) a civilian contractor, SEA (Systems Engineering and Assessment), contracted through DE&S MCS MTAO team at Abbey Wood,Bristol, has produced a simulator that will train Flight Deck Officers (FDO’s) and Aircraft Handlers (AH) on how to safely land and operate aircraft on and off a ship’s flight deck.


“We were asked to provide a technical refresh for the FDO trainer,” said Ben Webb SEA project manager. “Replacing aging hardware and upgrade the systems functionality as well as ensuring that it was current.”


The new facility allows flight deck crews to simulate every aspect of deck operations. Fire fighting & engineering emergencies, aircraft refuelling, marshalling and multi-spot landings can be simulated as well as changing sea states and day and night conditions. All the current helicopters types in service are used and over 28 different serials can be set to test individuals on drills taught at Culdrose in the classroom before students are release into the Fleet. 


“A dedicated team of software designers, 3-D modellers and computer developers worked quickly to put texture into everything and produce a life-like as possible flight deck,” continued Ben Webb.


Lieutenant Neil Harris, Training and Development Officer for RNSFDO is impressed with what is now one of his responsibilities. “The previous simulator was slow and increasingly fragile. We now have a far more reliable platform with greater fidelity enabling us to really push the boundaries of our training, enhance the student’s experience and, hopefully, deliver a better product out into the fleet. It’s also given us a greater flexibility and a greater capacity to create further serials to meet future requirements.”


The FDO Simulator team are not standing still either. Already they are looking to install newer aircraft types in the shape of Chinook, Apache, Osprey and F35 Jets and more many training serials for students to practice on, within the next few months.


“The reason for this facility is to improve training and give people better currency. This facility is truly quiet impressive and matches anything I’ve seen across in the United States,” said Captain Ade Orchard. “I'm thrilled with just a few mouse clicks the simulator is well and truly open and well done to everyone involved.”


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