In the words of Col. Mark Auer, Commander of the 179th Airlift Wing Operations Group, the 179th Airlift Wing’s recent acquisition of the C-130 Multi-Mission Crew Trainer (MMCT) is just the tip of the iceberg. “And it keeps getting better,” he added.
The MMCT is a high-fidelity, non-motion, C-130 flight simulator that will support pilot, co-pilot and flight engineer training in a full spectrum of flight operations. When fully operational, the MMCT will act as a low cost squadron level trainer that allows for advanced mission rehearsal, threat awareness training, aircraft system refreshers, emergency procedure and crew resource management training.
The 179th Airlift Wing received the MMCT on Tuesday, Oct. 28 from Randolph Air Force Base in Texas. The local unit is the first unit in the Air National Guard to receive this innovative training program. Auer said that there are five more MMCT’s currently in production, which will be distributed to units throughout the nation.
“What we’re excited about is it’s really our birthright, for lack of a better term, in Ohio to be innovators in aviation, and so it’s wonderful that it came here first,” said Auer.
Auer said that the utilization of the MMCT can be broken down into three phases. During phase one, the current phase, an advance echelon team, or ADVON, will coordinate the software installation. An experienced provider of Department of Defense simulation software, QuantaDyn, will perform the software programming.
Already, ADVON has assembled the MMCT in a newly repurposed simulator room at the base. Inside the simulator are several screens that resemble flat screen television screens. High fidelity images were taken of an actual C-130 cockpit, which will then be transposed onto the screens in the simulator. Each screen has touch capabilities, “so anywhere there’s a switch or a knob in the airplane, it’ll look the same way, but you’ll just touch it to activate it,” said Auer.
During phase one, which is estimated to be completed sometime in December, people can practice typical or emergency flight procedures, as well as difficult maneuvers, said Auer.
Then, phase two will commence, which means additional material will be added to the rear of the simulator to accommodate for a navigator station. This is projected to be completed within six months.
During phase three, which is estimated to be finished within a year, the simulator system will be able to connect with a classified network, allowing aircrew to communicate with other simulators, “so we can actually fly formation with another simulator in another state,” said Auer.
“This really is the tip of the iceberg. It just gets physically bigger and better.”
As stated in the press release, the MMCT creates a full suite of emulated, stimulated and virtual scenarios in various environments. With features like actual geo-specific visual databases and home field inserts, pilots can virtually take off and land on the Mansfield runway or practically anywhere else in the world. The training system allows users to experience various simulation environments while allowing full instructor oversight and scenario control. The instructor can apply random or configurable scenario changes and leverage replay capability to conduct robust mission debriefs.
Noting the benefits of the MMCT, Flight Engineer Chief Master Sgt. Randy Nelson, said, “Right now it’s increasing our training ability, and eventually it will cut down on flying time.” Decreasing flying time, therefore cuts costs, he indicated. “Eventually this will save the taxpayers lots and lots of money,” he said.
Lt. Col. Jeff Capretto added, “The biggest gain is in the safety.”
“We can take anyone who’s dong a simulated emergency procedure and put them in [the simulator] and actually make them hit the switches and do the things they would do while flying the airplane…before having to step into the actual airplane,” he said.
He further noted, “We can spend more time in the airplane doing more demanding, tactical, important procedures and perform some of the typical proficiency, less-complicated maneuvers in the MMCT.”
In addition to the aircrew, local firefighters, engine run/taxi crew chiefs, and all wing personnel who have to be familiar with engine shutdown and aircraft operation procedures will be able to use this training program.
“It’s just phenomenal,” said Auer.