Next-gen military trainer stops at Kickapoo Airport (Dec 2015)

Sep 24, 2016

Cnews-storyourtesy of the Times Record News, Dec 7 2015

Local residents, officials and some from Sheppard Air Force Base were able to take a peek at and even go for a ride in a roughly $2.8 million GROB G120TP, one of the newest airframes used by air forces around the world for military aviation training and more.

Charly Fürnrohr, vice president of military sales for the manufacturer based near Munich in southern Germany, told a group gathered at Cobra Kai Flight Academy at Kickapoo Downtown Airport that more than 3,500 GROB aircraft are operational on five continents. The next-generation training system combines conventional training with state-of-the-art components to align with military training in the 21st century. The G120TP, which tops out at 235 knots (about 270 mph), was the developmental result of years of military training, he said, to create the perfect aircraft that’s easy to handle and has a complete digital cockpit.

“Nowadays, due to the fact that all of the modern fighter airplanes are more or less easy to fly — they call it carefree to handle — we decided we need an airplane (that) is coping with this challenge,” Fürnrohr said. “It’s easy to fly, but it gives you the digital environment to play the modern piano everyday under still a stressful environment, which means high-sheer visibility in a military configuration, which is a little different from challenges in the civil world.”

Fürnrohr said the G120TP also enables student pilots to begin and end in one aircraft regardless the training track they’re on: Fighter, transport or helicopter.

That’s one reason Martin Bohn, owner of Cobra Kai Flight Academy, is hoping to add two G120TPs to his training fleet.

“For us it is probably a very unique opportunity to hopefully develop a flight profile and flight training, which has not been seen in the civilian world,” Bohn said of the flexibility of the aircraft. “This airplane will allow you to incorporate only areas where turbo prop airplanes before like twin engines, King Airs, PC-12s were going. That means you can actually implement training on pilots before they even finish up their commercial (license training), which is very unique.”

Bohn said there isn’t a timetable at this point to purchase the aircraft because they have to work on a business plan to determine the financial side of making it happen. He said the planes could be used to screen NATO student pilots as well as training private pilots.

A training syllabus would also have to be developed specific to the airframe, and the Federal Aviation Administration would have to approve the syllabus.

Fürnrohr said another unique feature of the aircraft is its durability. The composite aircraft is designed to require less maintenance, as seen on their demonstration tour that began in mid-October through South and North America and has taken more than 22,000 air miles in the G120TP. Fürnrohr said maintenance had to be done on the aircraft only two times during that period.

GROB’s primary customers at this time in South and North America include Argentina and Mexico.

“Lots of stress on the airplane. Lots of experience. Lots of friends we have made,” Fürnrohr said. “And it looks like lots of business we are making in the future there because we are in close negotiations right now with five air force customers already developed on this tour.”

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