06 Aug 2018

The power of partnerships in the aerospace sector

Thales is acknowledged as a global leader in aerospace solutions for both the military and civilian sectors.

From air traffic management, avionics, training and simulation solutions, nose-to-tail aircraft connectivity and in-flight services, Thales enables and connects all parts of the aerospace ecosystem in the air and on the ground.

In the military and civil sectors, these partners and customers include the UK Ministry of Defence, Airbus, Boeing, AirTanker, Inmarsat, AMST and British Airways.

But underpinning this wide range of brands and technologies is an identifiable common strategy as Andrew Musgrave, the sales director for Thales in the UK’s aerospace business, explains.

He said: “Thales has an incredibly diverse and complex aerospace portfolio of solutions and capabilities in our defence and civil markets. But at the heart of this success is our willingness to build close working relationships with the customer and establish productive partnerships focussed on solutions.

“The common thread that runs through all our solutions is a focus on customer intimacy.

“We put them first and we will go to the customer and build a working relationship with them, establishing a physical presence where possible to work on solutions together.

“You have to earn that trust that the customer will let you work with them on their critical capability together. It’s not just about selling a product, it’s building a relationship built on precedent and mutual trust.

“Whether that’s a team training RAF aircrew on a Tornado simulator in Scotland or an in-flight entertainment team at Heathrow working with a British Airways A380.”

Thales is also a global leader in the field of connectivity and in-flight entertainment systems, working with key aviation partners to provide high-speed in-flight connectivity across the European Aviation Network (EAN)

In the world of military training and simulation, Thales embeds personnel and facilities at RAF stations such as Lossiemouth, Marham and Linton-on-Ouse. Potential fast jet aircrew have all trained on Tucano simulators before progressing to Tornado sims which have trained the backbone of the RAF’s aircrew.

Crucially, against the high tempo demands of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, crews have been able to experience and train for these scenarios on highly-realistic simulated missions.

Many of the Thales instructors are experienced former military aircrew themselves, having flown the same aircraft in operational conditions and therefore have tremendous customer credibility.

Thales is already working closely with its military partner to deliver a step change in the future of high gravity fast jet training and simulation.

Thales is working with the MOD to deliver a state-of-the-art, High-G Training and Test Capability facility that could save the lives of fast jet fighter pilots.

Pilots flying the Hawk, Typhoon or new F35 Lighting II aircraft can experience up to 9G – nine times the normal gravitational pull of the Earth. High g-forces can cause a pilot to lose consciousness and has caused fatal accidents in the past.

Thales has teamed up with Austrian firm AMST to construct a new facility at RAF Cranwell to train RAF and Royal Navy pilots to counter the effects of these forces on their bodies during combat missions.

In the rotary world, Thales works closely with Boeing to ensure its iconic helicopter – the formidable Chinook – continues to be ready for the demands of front-line operations through upgraded glass cockpits and the latest in software training.

RAF Brize Norton is home to the state-of-the-art A400M training and simulation facilities and Thales is an integral part of this giant aircraft’s presence at the base.

Thales has played a pivotal role in the development of the A400M, working closely with Airbus Defence and Space and the RAF to deliver technology on-board and off, that helps make the aircraft fly.

A key example is inside the cockpit; the integrated modular avionics suite, a major technical evolution of global importance initially developed for the A380. A400M’s flight management system is also a Thales creation, which provides a highly effective interface between the pilot and the aircraft to support navigation and flight planning.

Thales also provides Airbus with A400M military training simulators. The simulators help to train flight crews for their missions as part of the overall A400M Training Services Ltd – a joint venture company formed by Thales and Airbus – to manage the training, support services and maintenance at Brize.

Brize is also home to a major consortium success story of AirTanker, the consortium made up of Babcock, Cobham, Airbus Group, Rolls-Royce and Thales.

AirTanker supplies the Voyager aircraft and everything needed to support aircraft operations to the RAF to deliver strategic and tactical air transport and air-to-air refuelling capability around the globe.

Recently celebrating its 10 year contract signature, Air Tanker also forms its primary supply chain, which means maintenance, repair and replacement programmes are carried out by ‘experts’ seconded from individual suppliers.

Thales across the UK relies heavily on the power and breadth of a thriving supply chain. Thales takes on suppliers from right around the world, but around 85% of them are right here in this country.

The company spend around £750 million a year with its suppliers. But it doesn’t just buy from them; Thales provides best in class development support to help them grow, improve and become more competitive.

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