[Pics] Official opening of the BELUX National A400M Training Centre (BNTC) in Melsbroek

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Official opening of the BELUX National

A400M Training Centre (BNTC) in Melsbroek

Author: Martin Gillet

On May 22nd, the Belgian Minister of Defence Ms Ludivine Dedonder, the representative of the Luxembourg Minister of Defence Mr Tom Köller, and Ms Maria Garcia Rodriguez, Vice President Training and Flight Ops at Airbus Military, inaugurated the BELUX National A400M Training Centre (BNTC) located at 15th Wing Melsbroek (*).

© Belgian Air Force Kristof Moens

The Chief of Staff, Colonel Bruno Beeckmans, welcomed the delegations and reminded them of the importance of this new tool, of which he was – by chance of the calendar – the first user. The Chief of Corps also cordially invites you this weekend for the open house.

© Martin Gillet

Agenda

(*) The 15th Wing opens its doors this weekend! On Saturday, May 27 and Sunday, May 28, 2023, the 15th Wing, in collaboration with DAFA, will open the doors of Melsbroek Air Force Base to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Wing as well as the 30th anniversary of DAFA.

Tickets : https://shop.ticket.monster/event/open-door-1pafo5

The inauguration of the BNTC, whose centrepiece is the A400M flight simulator, marks a new milestone for the 15th Wing in terms of training and education of Belgian and Luxembourg air transport pilots.

© Martin Gillet
© Martin Gillet
© Martin Gillet
© Martin Gillet

Belgium has already taken delivery of seven A400Ms, including one from Luxembourg. The 8th aircraft should arrive by the end of 2023 to complete the ordered fleet. Remember the arrival of CT01? The factory insight with the assembly of cn106 and cn104?

On May 22, 2023, the plans from the end of 2018 came to an end with the inauguration of an A400M flight simulator, for an initial budget of 93 million Euros. This simulator is a replica of the A400M, says Major Van Hellemont “Josse”.

© Martin Gillet
© Martin Gillet

This simulator makes it possible to gain efficiency, in particular by decreasing the costs related to the displacements but also by decreasing the hours of real flights. Indeed, one hour on the simulator is equivalent to one hour of flight in real conditions. 75% of the users are in fact pilots. Then come the Loadmasters (10%), the maintenance staff (5%) and others like for example the development of courses. The facility consists of a site manager, two FFS pilot instructors, a training coordinator and 3 maintenance technicians.

© Martin Gillet

The simulator is not isolated thanks to its networking with other partner facilities, which reinforces the exchanges and the quality of the training services.

© Belgian Air Force Kristof Moens

A rigorous follow-up of the tool’s update is also planned, in order to guarantee the respect of the rules in force.

© Martin Gillet

It is interesting to note that the conversion from co-pilot to pilot has been reduced from 6 to 4 years thanks to this simulator, which reinforces the availability of crews.

The instructor can follow the session remotely and chime in at any time to simulate a failure or issue, test the pilot’s responsiveness, and analyse their skills in real time. All footage is recorded and debriefed post-training.

© Martin Gillet

Excerpt from Minister Dedonder’s speech:

© Martin Gillet

Our A400M fleet had only just arrived, installed and operational here in Melsbroek when the first operational call came: the dispatch of our Belgian military to Romania as part of the NATO defence collection. More recently, our A400M fleet was also used to transport Belgian humanitarian aid to the Turkish population, affected by the terrible earthquake of last February.

In a nutshell, the A400M is the European aircraft we need: fast, versatile and with a high payload capacity. It can transport personnel and equipment to theatres of operation, as well as parachute troops and equipment, even in hostile environments. This versatility also enables it to carry out medical evacuation missions.

At the end of the delivery process, this fleet will consist of seven Belgian aircraft and one Luxembourg aircraft. To keep them all operational, our pilots must train for all possible missions for which our capability is intended. That is why today we are inaugurating the BELUX National A400M Training Centre (BNTC), with its centrepiece: its simulator or Flightsim.

This inauguration is also an opportunity to express the exemplary nature of this programme on the scale of European cooperation in a general framework, but also of our deep cooperation with the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

The A400M programme, launched in 2001, brings together several European countries – including Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg – and is managed by the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation – OCCAR. A large number of European companies are participating in this programme, including Belgian aerospace companies.

With our bi-national fleet, they have a concrete example of real operational cooperation between European countries. This instrument is able to fully support our troops and those of our partners and allies in all types of operations: whether it is to provide equipment, deploy paratroopers or support evacuations in crisis situations.

© Martin Gillet

Our bi-national unit in Melsbroek is, therefore, a perfect illustration of European Defence in action, with extensive cooperation and interoperability. We can all be proud of that.”

© Martin Gillet

The Belgian delegation was represented by:

– Ludivine Dedonder, Minister of Defence
– Major General Thierry Dupont, Commander Air Component
– Admiral Michel Hoffman, Chief of Defence

The Luxembourg delegation was represented by:

– the representative of the Luxembourg Minister of Defence, Mr Tom Köller
– Colonel Pascal Ballinger, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army,
– Colonel Guy Hoffman, Director Armament Acquisition and Investment,
– Mr Roland Reiser, Assistant to the Air Component Officer.

© Martin Gillet

The delegations were able to visit the facilities in detail, take the controls on board the simulator and interact with the pilots and crews present on site. Particular attention was paid to teamwork and different types of simulations.

The ceremony ended with the signing of the ‘Golden Wall’ and the handing over of a miniature simulator by Maria Garcia Rodriguez, Vice President Training and Flight Ops at Airbus Military.

© Martin Gillet
© Martin Gillet
© Martin Gillet
© Martin Gillet
© Martin Gillet

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