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First mission training facility comes to Africa courtesy of Starlite
Starlite Aviation, one of Africa's largest aviation providers, has unveiled a commercially available rotary and fixed wing aviation mission training facility at Mossel Bay in South Africa.
Starlite Aviation Training Academy has inaugurated a mission training facility at its flying academy at Mossel Bay, South Africa.
Read this story in our September 2022 printed issue.

Africa-based Starlite Aviation has unveiled the continent's first commercially available aviation mission training facility.

Working closely with UK and Czech based training specialists, the training academy has created a bespoke mission training facility at Mossel Bay, South Africa. The scope of environmental and role training it can deliver is enhanced by the vast experience of the training team.

The training takes place in a dynamic, synthetic, humanitarian and peace support training scenario in multiple locations around the world and will significantly enhance the training for military, civil and governmental trainee aircrew.

With the capability to rapidly re-role the innovative system between rotary and fixed wing platforms, Starlite can deliver the training its clients truly need for the first time on the African continent.

“This training system marks a step change in the quality and capability of training systems at our disposal," says head of the training business unit Henry Poole. "The aviation operational environment is ever changing and the TTPs and skills aviators must employ to remain both safe and efficient are growing in complexity alongside the expected missions and aircraft. We are now able to place multi crew, multi aircraft formations into a complex threat environment, in poor weather, with a smart advisory and exercise their cognitive and practical flying skills; all the time working back to our fully simulated tactical operations centre. We are immensely proud of our ability to allow crews to practice, not just the flying event but the full mission day, including the planning, mission orders, flight and after action review; all without leaving the exercise environment.

"This system is developed on the back of the USAF and UK RAF training technologies, with significant input from highly experienced ex-military instructors to ensure the training capability is matched to the client's needs. We are confident that this highly immersive approach to training will redefine the realism baseline for operational aircrew training.”

The system is uniquely able to train up to four pilots at a time, with all crews in either virtual reality or mixed reality. Additionally, the operations room allows for their peers to experience and practice the functions of operations officer and watchkeeper during the missions to further enhance the mission immersion and training benefit. While the level of immersion the mission simulation equipment provides is clear to see, the most remarkable results come from the unique depth of training it allows Starlite's instructors to deliver.

The mission training facility harnesses advanced virtual reality headsets and motion systems provided by Vrgineers, a leader in delivering virtual and mixed reality pilot training systems for professional and military clients.

"This project demonstrates the adaptation of a new era of pilot training in Africa and places Starlite Aviation Academy at the forefront of this cutting-edge technology and training system," comments Vrgineers CEO Marek Polcak."It now means that smaller countries no longer need to be so reliant on the capacities of US and European countries to train their pilots but can now internalise a significant amount of their training requirements. Every nation can now afford a fully equipped virtual and mixed reality training facility, all at a fraction of the cost of the more conventional simulators that they have become used to operating over the past decades."

The Vrgineers XTAL 8K headset provides an unparalleled level of immersion for the trainees, further enhanced by the three DOF motion platforms and cockpit stations. The perfect combination of 180 degrees FoV and true motion removes many of the limitations of conventional virtual reality systems and allows for longer training and a far greater sense of realism for the trainees.

The software environment, BISim's VBS4, is widely used by many of the world's largest militaries for both planning and training. All the training courses are designed by CHS Tactical, a UK based aviation training specialist, and created specifically for Starlite Aviation's African clients.

Starlite Aviation CEO Gareth Schnehage says: “The addition of this capability to Starlite Aviation Training Academy's suite of services offered to clients will provide a full value-chain offering that the company intends to expand throughout Africa and beyond its current provision of quality training services in Mossel Bay. This is only the first step and is testament to the company and its partners' commitment to investing in technology and new innovative platforms for the provision of aviation training to service our clients' needs.”

This capability represents significant investment in the training of key skillsets needed by modern aviators to conduct effective and safe operations in Africa. Starlite Aviation is delighted to formally declare its mission training facility open for business.

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