Rosenbauer is in the process of implementing a PANTHER training system for the Swiss Air Force, which enables training for the tactical handling of ARFF vehicles as well as handling the extinguishing and control panels. With four simulators, an intercom radio system, VR headset and Eagle Eye for debriefing, it is currently the most cutting-edge system of its kind.
The PANTHER training system will be installed in the fire training centre of CFR Campus PHÈNIX at Payerne Airport. ‘The Swiss Air Force is building a competence centre for aircraft firefighting here, where the members of the aircraft incident squads will receive their complete training in future and be able to complete regular drills under real conditions,’ says Hans Schmid, Head of Crash and Fire Rescue Swiss Air Force. ‘In the future, each and every member will train on the simulators for at least two days a year. Their integration into an overall system allows us to systematically and efficiently structure the training. In addition, three liquid-gas-fired fire simulators (dummy aircraft) are available for “hot” drills on the approximately 26,000m2 site’
PANTHER and generic cockpits
The simulator landscape consists of two PANTHER tactical simulators – 8×8 and 6×6 S, as well as two simulators that can be configured not just as ARFF vehicles but also as command or logistics vehicles. The two PANTHER simulators are equipped with identical PANTHER cockpits, while the other two have generic cockpits on which all functions can be operated the same way as in the respective original vehicle. Everything that happens outside the vehicles is displayed on large LED screens in Ultra-HD (four times HDTV) resolution. Each screen is controlled by its own computer; a total of 18 computers with powerful graphics cards are installed in the training system.
Control panel for programming
The system also includes a control panel on which the virtual training sessions are planned, programmed and documented. There are five airport layouts and numerous aircraft types to choose from, the time of day or night, and the weather and runway conditions can be modified to make the operational action as realistic as possible. All firefighting operations, from leaking jet fuel to an undercarriage catching fire or burning jet engines, can be trained on, whereby the control of the firefighting equipment is just as sensitive as in the real-life counterparts.
Control centre with VR headset
Another PC workstation is used by the operational commander to follow the drills and, if necessary, to intervene in the training, to change parameters, or to initiate an emergency incident. Using a VR headset and control handles, the commander can also go directly into the virtual space of the operation during the drills to give instructions or intervene ‘on-site’. Communication between the training participants takes place via an intercom system that simulates real-life radio traffic in operations. Each drill can also be recorded with a virtual drone (Eagle Eye) and clearly reviewed from an aerial perspective on a large screen.
Sustainability a priority
The Swiss Air Force is paying special attention to the issue of sustainability in the new fire training centre. The energy for the building is produced by a photovoltaic system. In addition, all water is collected, treated, temporarily stored and reused during real drills. The training on the simulators is even more sustainable because neither water (up to 14,000 litres is used during a drill with a real PANTHER 8×8) nor fuel is consumed, and the vehicles are not subject to wear and tear.
‘The Swiss Air Force’s aircraft incident squads can train for every operational scenario imaginable in a resource-saving, safe and controlled manner. That’s the great advantage of simulator training,’ says Markus Zellinger, Managing Director of Rosenbauer Switzerland.
June 20–25, 2022
Hannover Messe, Hanover, Germany
Hall 27, Booth B58 and outdoor area