AERALIS to deliver new modular fighter jet pilot training aircraft

The British company is developing a new generation of modular fighter jet training aircraft to significantly reduce costs for potential customers

Adam Muspratt

Customising trainer jet aircraft on the fly 

AERALIS is currently creating the next generation of fighter jet pilot aircraft and flying training systems. The British company hopes to offer a new leasing model that promises to result in significantly reduced lifetime costs. 

"The trainer jets will be highly modular, adopting a unique frame build around a robust common core fuselage"

The trainer jets will be highly modular, adopting a unique frame build around a robust common core fuselage. The AERALIS suite of trainer jets will enable significant cost savings through its commonality of parts (85%), providing a significant benefit over purchasing entirely new traditional aircraft as new technological and operational demands emerge. 

Tim Davies, AERALIS Strategy Director, commented: “Buying trainer aircraft outright is a major investment for any air force and much of that investment is wasted when the planes are standing idle because the training needs have changed". 

Innovative leasing model. Source: AERALIS

The suite of aircraft will be highly customisable. The engines, outer wings and avionics will be interchangeable, enabling end-users to configure their fleet of training aircraft to match the precise needs of their trainee pilots at any point in the training journey. 

In practice, the lessor buys a combination of common-core fuselages and wing and engine models. The customer then leases the desired combination of variant components - which is configured onto the aircraft.

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Through this system, militaries are able to pro-actively and swiftly react to market forces, aerospace, technological, and military developments. The ability to switch wings out will stand to improve life performance, and the modular engine will be able to compensate for new engine types, such as biofuel and all-electric engines. 

Additionally, the ability to swap at first line repair has many operational advantages, especially for returning a damaged module to service rapidly. 

With the leasing arrangements that AERALIS is developing, the customer will not be burdened by huge capital purchasing costs but will have the ability to flex their flying training system as their requirements change over time. For this reason, the military is set to benefit substantially.  

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Many airforces are already struggling with the seamless pilot transition into 5th generation aircraft. NATO nations are training pilots with existing airframes and an increasing mixture of LVC technology to offset the differences in airframe capability - as trainer jets have far lower performance thresholds compared to 5th generation F-35s. This is certainly an area where more modular aircraft will become invaluable. 

In addition, customers can expect more cost savings through the unique fuselage, which can be easily re-roled and is built last longer than traditional airframe structures. 

"Many airforces are already struggling with the seamless pilot transition into 5th generation aircraft"

Tim Davie also said "With our innovative leasing plans, AERALIS is changing all that. The AERALIS/Lessor/Lessee relationship means that the end user will be able to adapt their trainer fleet to meet both current and future training requirements.”

How can we ensure seamless pilot transition into 5th and 6th generation aircraft? Shutterstock

AERALIS also aims to deliver shorter overall pilot training times by exposing students earlier to more complex mission management training due to configurable cockpits and a fully tailorable flying training system.

Increasing modularity in defence 

Indeed, modularity is becoming increasingly prevalent within the defence sector. For many years, naval construction has consisted of modular blocks, which has become increasingly important with fewer naval warships being built. For example, the DDG 1000 destroyer being built at Bath Iron Works in Maine, but the entire superstructure and aircraft hangar was built in Gulfport, Mississippi by Huntington Ingalls and was made from an entirely different material. 

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Modular armoured vehicles have also become the norm for NATO nations. The ability for a single vehicle to be able to perform a variety of missions, ranging from low to high intensity will ensure defence departments won’t have to procure a new vehicle every time they want to deploy in a new combat scenario. Modularity is one of the most effective ways of achieving this - as demonstrated by the Pandur, Boxer and Ajax.