T-6C Trainer (Beechcraft)
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WELLINGTON — Beechcraft’s T-6C aircraft has been chosen to provide new pilot training capability for the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF).
New Zealand Defence Minister Jonathan Coleman announced the NZ $154 million (US $127 million) package, which includes 11 T-6C turboprop aircraft, together with simulators, classroom and computer based training packages to complement practical flying experience.
Infrastructure improvements will include a new training/simulation center and an upgraded hangar at the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s (RNZAF’s) Ohakea base.
The capability is expected to produce up to 15 graduate pilots and 12 qualifying flying instructors per year over the next 30 years, Coleman said.
The aircraft will be assembled in Wichita, Kan., and are expected to enter service with the Pilot Training School and the Central Flying School at Ohakea early in 2016. Both fixed and rotary wing pilot training is conducted at the base.
RNZAF pilot training currently relies upon 13 single piston-engined CT-4E Airtrainers and four leased turboprop Beech King Air B200s. While the Airtrainers will be retired in the next couple of years the B200’s lease doesn’t expire until 2018.
A company-owned T-6C aircraft is expected at Ohakea in midyear to assist Beechcraft’s Global Mission Support team in training maintenance crews, followed by the first four NZDF aircraft later in the year. The training facilities and simulators are expected around mid-2015, to coincide with the first T-6C Flying Instructors Course. The first Wings Course on the new aircraft is scheduled for January 2016.
Designed by New Zealand and built by Pacific Aerospace, Airtrainers have served with the RNZAF for more than 35 years. The CT-4B entered service in 1976 followed by the current 4E version in 1998.
The pilot training project not only aims to provide fully trained pilots, the aircraft itself is almost entirely off the shelf, with only minor amendments to the basic specification. Moreover, Beechcraft will handle the logistics aspects, subcontracting local labor and technical support to CAE Australia and New Zealand company Safe Air.
The simulation package includes two operational flight simulators. These CAE devices feature a domed 270 degree x 70 degree field-of-view system and what Beechcraft describe as “a single-axis dynamic seat that provides tactile simulation of inflight movement and sensations.”
The simulators will be complemented by 12 desktop avionics trainers that feature touch-screen computers.
The T-6C basic specifications include Martin Baker Mk16 zero/zero ejection seats, Esterline’s CMC 4000 glass cockpit, three multifunction displays, a SparrowHawk head-up display, plus an FN Herstal weapons control system with six under-wing hard points, two of which are plumbed for fuel tanks.
Although the RNZAF’s existing Airtrainers have for decades been painted yellow with black control surfaces, the T-6Cs will be black. Apparently black is regarded as effective for catching sight of high performance aircraft, and with nearly double the cruise speed (297 knots versus 152 knots) and more than twice the climb rate of the CT-4E, the T-6C qualifies as a high performer.