Group editor Marty Kauchak reports on recent training milestones at Lockheed Martin’s Hercules Training Center.

This 29 January, Lockheed Martin received FAA Part 142 Training Center certification at the company’s Hercules Training Center (HTC) in Marietta, Georgia. Vic Torla, director of Business Development for Training, Training and Logistics Solutions at Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems, explained the significance of this milestone, noting “It allows us to begin both the military and commercial training at the center.”

The Marietta facility training portfolio supports aircrews for Lockheed Martin’s C-130J military aircraft and LM-100J commercial version. CAT readers will recall the “100-J” commercial freighter received its FAA type design update certification last 15 November.

The community training expert called attention to the business case for co-locating the HTC and Lockheed Martin’s Aeronautic business. Aircrews from a prospective international C-130J customer have the opportunity to complete training courses at the center, and then ferry their service’s new aircraft to home country, or for an LM-100J, to the commercial organization. Beyond initial and familiarization training, HTC also offers nations’ military services with several C-130Js in their air order of battle, a quality, cost-effective alternative training option to increasingly filled US DoD courses for that model.

The FAA’s certification provides two specific “firsts” for military-civilian aviation training communities.

In one instance, this action certifies a training center which has a reconfigurable Level D simulator, in this instance, one which enables rapid transition between LM-100J, C-130J Block 6 or Block 8.1 training as needed. Lockheed Martin is the prime integrator of the HTC reconfigurable simulator, working with CAE and FlightSafety International. This continues the long-standing partnership between these companies building C-130J simulators. The industry veteran emphasized, “Every variation of active C-130J training is available through HTC in Marietta.”

The second “first” is the FAA’s initial certification of a curriculum that includes a VR trainer.

While HTC has an array of other training devices, ranging from a Level D certified trainer to a multi-function training aid, “what we have included in the now certified syllabus, is a VR experience for our students,” Torla remarked. He further noted that while current VR-enabled instruction permits the student to complete a pre-flight check list training event, beyond that scenario, “We also see applications for loadmaster training, and for a variety of other uses for different aircrew.”

This achievement is another milestone on Lockheed Martin’s journey in maturing the technology. Indeed, Lockheed Martin's XRL-VR capability has been producing and delivering VR applications to both internal and external customers since 2016. From immersive flight training, to simulating dangerous missions, to designing and exploring virtual hardware and environments; “we are constantly pushing the potential for these powerful tools,” the company noted.

Lockheed Martin’s fielding strategy for VR in the HTC training system maximizes the use of COTS content. To that end, “what you will find in our VR solution at HTC is the utilization of COTS headsets. We design our system with an open architecture that will accommodate basically any of the open standard COTS headsets that are out there, Oculus and others. We want to be able to go to the best, most current headsets and adopt them in our training curriculum.”

Similarly, Lockheed Martin uses a variety of software solutions to enable VR instruction, including Unreal and Unity3D. Lockheed Martin’s multi-function training aid devices at the HTC use the company’s Prepar3D simulation software.