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19 May 2016

ITEC 2016: DiSTI Makes Further Inroads in Virtual Maintenance Training

DiSTI Corporation has established an enviable reputation, especially for maintenance training, with simulators developed and installed for a wide range of applications in all domains and across a broad spectrum of training needs. Collin Hiller, Director of DiSTI Europe, based in London, pointed out the company has made, “well over 150 VMT (Virtual Maintenance Trainers) over the last 20 years,” in a discussion with MT at this year’s ITEC in London.

As the company addresses new market opportunities however, it is apparent that not every potential customer has the same financial resources as DiSTI’s military clients, not do they all necessarily require a comprehensive, all-embracing VMT solution. The company’s solution for the UH-72 Lakota carries a price tag of approximately $4.5 million. A law enforcement customer operating a handful of EC-145s, however, would find that level of expenditure difficult, if not impossible, to justify and in any case is unlikely to have a requirement for the same level of deep maintenance activity that a military user finds essential.

How to address that significant market area then? Hillier has two suggested avenues of approach: at least, two that he is willing to talk about at the moment – who knows what else may be just around the corner. First is a simple proposal to develop a series of modular VMT capabilities for a specific requirement. If the customer requires a simpler solution to his immediate needs, then why not provide a modular capability that speaks directly to the requirement while retaining flexibility for later upgrades for enhanced capability?

The second proposal is more intriguing and is certainly worthy of the company’s reputation for innovative thinking. If there are sufficient numbers of operators requiring similar levels and species of virtual maintenance training out there, why not investigate the possibility of leasing them time on contractor-owned simulators? This is a model that works well in civil flight simulation, with academies established in strategic locations by companies such as CAE, L-3 Link and FlightSafety. There is no reason why it should not work in the VMT domain, in Hiller’s view – and it’s difficult to disagree with him.

Both approaches are beginning to bear fruit and although Hiller’s European team is small at the moment, “there is definite interest in what we have to offer,” he confirms. Proof of the pudding will be in seeing what obstacles need to be overcome to take this intriguing idea from concept to reality – but Hiller’s efforts have already resulted in three requests for quotation this year. Watch this space!

Tim Mahon, ITEC