Rosenbauer International: equips the Swiss Air Force firefighter training center with simulators

  • State-of-the-art simulation landscape for joint training with up to four vehicles
  • VR headset for direct intervention of the operational commander in the virtual training room
  • Drone recordings during training for documentation and debriefing

Rosenbauer is in the process of setting up a PANTHER training system for the Swiss Air Force, which enables training in the tactical handling of ARFF vehicles as well as the handling of extinguishing and control panels. With four simulators, an intercom radio system, a VR headset and Eagle Eye for debriefing, it is currently the most advanced system of its kind.

The PANTHER training system will be installed at the CFR Campus PHÈNIX fire training center at Payerne airport. “The Swiss Air Force is building a competence center for aircraft firefighting here, where members of the aircraft incident teams will in future receive their comprehensive training and can carry out regular drills under real conditions”, says Hans Schmid, Head of Crash and Fire Rescue Swiss Air Force. “In the future, each member will train on the simulators 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 fire simulators (dummy aircraft) are available for “hot” exercises over approximately 26,000 m2 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 only as ARFF vehicles, but also as command or logistics vehicles. Both PANTHER simulators are equipped with identical PANTHER cockpits, while the other two have generic cockpits on which all functions can be used in the same way as in the respective original vehicle. Everything that happens outside the vehicles is displayed on large LED screens in Ultra-HD resolution (4 times HDTV). 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 where virtual training sessions are planned, scheduled and documented. There are five airport layouts and numerous aircraft types to choose from, time of day or night, and weather and runway conditions can be changed to make operational action as realistic as possible. All firefighting operations, from leaking jet fuel to catching landing gear or burning jet engines, can be trained, with control of firefighting equipment being just as sensitive as in real life.

Control center with VR headset

Another PC workstation is used by the operational commander to follow the exercises and, if necessary, intervene in the formation, modify parameters or trigger 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 exercises in order to give instructions or intervene “on the spot”. Communication between training participants takes place via an intercom system that simulates real radio traffic in operations. Each exercise 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 pays particular attention to the issue of sustainability in the new firefighter training center. The energy of the building is produced by a photovoltaic system. In addition, all water is collected, treated, temporarily stored and reused during real drilling. Training on the simulators is even more sustainable, since neither water (up to 14,000 l is used during an exercise with a real PANTHER 8×8) nor fuel is consumed, and the vehicles are not subjected to wear. “Swiss Air Force aircraft incident teams can train for all conceivable operational scenarios in a resource-efficient, safe and controlled manner. This is the great advantage of simulator training,” says Markus Zellinger, CEO of Rosenbauer Switzerland.

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