On Monday 16 April 2018 at RAFC Cranwell, the first flight of the Embraer Phenom on the military register took place. The aircraft will be used to deliver multi-engine pilot training under the new United Kingdom Military Flying Training System (UKMFTS). The Captain for the first flight was RAF pilot instructor, Flt Lt Jon O’Rourke. Jon is the Multi-Engine Pilot Examiner for the Central Flying School and is a highly experienced military pilot and Qualified Flying Instructor (QFI) with several thousand hours experience across many different aircraft types. The Co-Pilot for the first flight was Mr Matt Coverley who is an Ascent Instructor. Matt was previously an Army Air Corps Warrant Officer, with a wide range of experience flying both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. His final tour in the Army was working alongside the RAF as a QFI on 45 Sqn.
Multi-engine pilot training takes students from elementary flying training on the Prefect and gives them the skills and knowledge they require to pilot transport and tanker aircraft such as A400M, C130J, Voyager, BAe 146 and C17, the intelligence and surveillance platforms such as Sentry, Sentinel, Rivet Joint and Shadow, and the resurgent maritime patrol pilot requirement for the future P8 Poseidon fleet. Under UKMFTS, multi-engine pilot training will be conducted on the Phenom by 45 Squadron at RAFC Cranwell. The Phenom is used the world over principally as a civilian executive jet, but also by other military forces and is considered a very flexible and capable aircraft. The Phenom is equipped with a modern glass cockpit and avionics suite which makes the transition to advanced Front Line operational aircraft quicker and easier for students and so aids the intent to drive down the time that students spend in training. Supporting live flying on the aircraft are high-tech simulators which replicate the cockpit of the Phenom and allow a significant portion of training to be carried out on the ground and again streamline the route to operational readiness.
UKMFTS is designed to provide an optimised flying training system for all three Armed Services. The key programme objectives include; removing the technology gap between training and Front Line cockpits, optimising, and ultimately reducing the time spent in training and reducing the overall cost to Defence. This flying training programme is a key MOD change programme, funded to 2033, and delivered in phases in partnership with the MOD’s Training Service Partner, Ascent Flight Training. UKMFTS is a tri-service Military Flying Training System that will deliver aircrew to the Front Line Operational Conversion Units at the right time and to the MOD’s defined output standard. To provide this world class military flying training solution Ascent has delivered state of the art infrastructure including operational support buildings and advanced ground based training equipment
Wing Commander Richard Tomala, OC 45 Squadron, 3 FTS:
‘The first flight of the Phenom T Mk 1 is a significant milestone in the delivery of Multi-Engine Flying Training for Defence as part of the MFTS contract. The aircraft is just one part of a completely new training system for all Military multi-engine pilots and RAF Weapons System Operators. Alongside the world class infrastructure and state of the art simulators at Cranwell, the aircraft will allow Ascent in partnership with 45 Sqn to deliver world class flying training and support the front line. The Phenom T Mk 1 is a civilian business-jet which has been brought into military service with minimal alterations. The civilian version is one of the most popular and successful light jets in the world and represents a huge step forward in terms of both performance and cockpit avionics when compared to the outgoing King Air which it replaces. The modern glass cockpit reflects the latest technology in use on the front line and will ensure that the student pilots and WSOps have the best possible training for their future roles operating modern aircraft such as the Voyager, A400M and Poseidon’
Group Captain Eugene Moriarty, Commandant 3 FTS:
‘The first flight of our Phenom aircraft represents a significant milestone in the delivery of the new Multi-Engine Pilot Training capability. With all 5 aircraft in place, we now enter a stage of QFI training and syllabus development work. As well as the 5 Phenom ac, an excellent range of synthetic training devices complement the aircraft perfectly and allow a significant portion of training to be conducted in the synthetic environment. There is still plenty to do before we are ready to train our first students on the Phenom, but the team are working hard and are focussed on delivering our first student training later this year. Like the Prefect, the Phenom and the associated training systems provide a step change in training capability that will enable us to best prepare our next generation of multi-engine pilots for the challenges they will face on the front-line OCUs and beyond.‘