Training specialist L3Harris Commercial Aviation Solutions has officially opened a new $100 million pilot-training center close to London Gatwick Airport and detailed plans to add a further two full-flight simulators, filling the eight available bays.

The new facility, which officially opened July 10 by the Prince of Wales, brings together L3Harris’ training and simulator manufacturing facilities.

Around 350 employees have been relocated from a nearby site where L3Harris was co-located with Thales, after acquiring the latter’s commercial aviation training activities around three years ago.

Measuring over 150,000 sq. ft., The London Training Center is home to six full-flight simulators (three Airbus A320s, one A330 and two Boeing 737s), with two vacant bays. The A330 was introduced shortly before the move and the third A320 device is new.

Speaking to ATW in an exclusive interview, L3Harris Commercial Training Solutions president Robin Glover-Faure said a decision on the aircraft types of the final two devices will be made this year, for installation in 2020. The choice will be driven by customer demand.

Beyond the simulators, the training center also includes eight flight-training devices, around 10 flat-panel trainers, classrooms and briefing rooms.

Glover-Faure said the new building—unlike the old site—was specifically designed for pilot training, with future growth and the increasing trend towards evidence-based training in mind.

A second 150,000 sq. ft. building, on the same site, houses L3Harris’ simulator production facility with capacity to manufacture over 30 full-flight simulators per year. Simulator manufacturing had outgrown the old premises and spilled over to several nearby locations, which have all been consolidated to the new facility.

The opening is one of L3Harris’ first events since receiving merger approval. Glover-Faure said it is “business as usual” for the training division. He said joining forces with Harris will create a stronger combined company, giving greater access to capital, IT resources and the ability to offer more cost-effective solutions.

Beyond the UK training center, L3Harris Commercial Training Solutions has also just announced plans to set up a new commercial aviation training center at an existing military site in Dallas. This site will be equipped with A320 and 737 simulators. “We have had very strong initial feedback from our customers,” Glover-Faure said, adding that the company is hoping to look at other US opportunities.

He said L3Harris Commercial Aviation Solutions’ growth will be both organic and through acquisitions.

Victoria Moores