AERALIS is developing a modular trainer aircraft with swappable components such as outer wings and a modular turbofan engine concept, helping to reduce through-life support costs.
While elementary training will still be conducted on light turbo-prop aircraft, the AERALIS concept aircraft will allow student pilots to transition from basic jet pilot training to advanced training in the same cockpit, AERALIS Chairman Brian Hibbert told Jane's at the 2019 DSEI defence exhibition in September.
Retaining a common core fuselage, the outer wings can be interchanged between a straight or swept edge, with the engine bay also allowing for increases in power to twin engine as required by the curriculum. The engine modularity also allows for improvements to access for maintenance and support.
"One of the challenges with Hawk is that you cannot re-engine the aircraft easily as it is integral to the aircraft. That can be one of the reasons the aircraft gets to [the end of its] life as the engine cannot be replaced. If you want to upgrade the engine you have to work within the same parameters as when the aircraft was designed," AERALIS Head of Programme Luca Leone said.
The aircraft is also being positioned as a potential future trainer to function alongside the UK's forthcoming next-generation combat aircraft, Tempest.
The company announced on 16 September that it had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with US firm KBR to help further develop the system and training concepts, building on earlier agreements with Atkins to develop the engineering concepts for the platform and Thales for the aircraft's simulator systems. Cranfield Aerospace Solutions and Frazer Nash have also contributed to the programme.
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