Leonardo's Yeovil apprentices take the lead in helicopter refit
A team of apprentices, led by recent graduates working at Leonardo in Yeovil, has brought its innovative vision of customer training to life, by refitting a Lynx helicopter training tool to transform it into the very latest AW159 model, allowing the company to offer an even more realistic virtual training experience to its customers around the world.
The project has seen the team of young engineers and business apprentices overhaul and update an old Lynx helicopter maintenance training tool (essentially a life-size ‘working model’ of a Lynx helicopter) to allow customers to learn to maintain the company’s latest-model AW159 helicopters. The updated AW159 helicopter training device has seen most of the original Lynx components stripped out, with only a small number of elements left from the original Lynx, such as the main gearbox.
The trainee team consists of two graduate programme managers and ten apprentice project leads each responsible for their own project areas including: Engines, Cockpit, Wiring, Tail Section, Nose, Cabin & Rear Bay, Hydraulics, Fuel Systems, External Skin and a dedicated role for Supply Chain and Disposals. Not only has the project provided a valuable training and learning experience to the apprentices and graduates, they will also use the project to satisfy part of their HNC qualification.
Following completion of the strip and design phase, the programme has progressed into the manufacture stage. This is carried out in cooperation with Yeovil College, utilising first year apprentices to undertake much of the work, learning and developing their skills by manufacturing components for a genuine, live project. There has also been great support from on-site manufacturing capability.
Tim Page, Chief Instructor, Leonardo Helicopters Training Academy (UK), said: “I procured the Lynx Trainer from the Royal Navy training school at RNAS Yeovilton. The Navy Lynx went out of service last year, and that gave me the opportunity to acquire it. I approached the Apprentice Managers to see if they would be interested in helping us to restore it, and that’s when the apprentices and our Lynx instructors came up with the idea of converting the Lynx Helicopter into a AW159 Wildcat Helicopter training aid, which will be used eventually for our customer’s practical training. Yeovil College was very keen for their students to take advantage of this learning opportunity, as it meant the practical assignments the apprentices were doing on the trainer would help to tick the boxes for their manufacturing qualifications.”
The LMT aircraft was completed in the summer 2018 and is proving invaluable in enhancing Leonardo’s UK training capability for apprentices, company employees and current/future customers of the AW159 platform. In October 2018 the team's work was recognised at the company's annual UK Helicopter Trainee Awards event, winning the Army Air Corps Award for Leadership & Innovation.
Since 1915, the Yeovil site has been at the forefront of aviation, building the first planes in the early 1900s and spitfires for the RAF in World War Two, right up today’s world class innovation of helicopters which have featured in the James Bond Skyfall film and the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. This latest training innovation is evidence of the continued tradition of aviation excellence being continued by today’s trainees.
Ben Lavery, Lead Apprentice Training Manager at Leonardo’s site in Yeovil said: “The project is providing ‘real-life’ experience of technical task management, customer requirements capture and programme management in order to support future Leonardo Helicopters business. Each of the trainees involved has benefitted hugely from the personal development and exposure that this opportunity has provided.”