21 Questions with Team 21

We invited our Team 21 colleagues to share their stories, expertise, and personalities with us, and we’ll be posting the results over the next few months. Join us as Team 21 answers 21 questions, revealing the wealth of style, skill, and savvy that are the hallmarks of this team.


Martile Allen
Senior Program Manager, Global Training Services

What is transformational media?
Transformational media blends the latest computer graphics technology with training courses and simulators to create an immersive, self-directed training environment. Think of it as a one-stop shop, with all training centralised in one platform. Rather than sitting in a classroom for lectures and then moving to a simulator before touching the actual aircraft, the classroom and simulator training are combined into one. This really strengthens the students learning as they can immediately start to learn how to use the aircraft rather than just where things are and what they do. We can even put the simulator on a laptop or a tablet, so students can go through the training at any time and in any place.

The solutions we’re working on now combine Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D® simulation software with commercial gaming software to create a customised training solution. This increases how quickly we can deliver new training capability, while lowering cost.

How do you see transformational media enabling more effective flying training around the globe?
Enabling students to learn anytime, anywhere, at their fingertips supports many of our customers’ needs – from the affordability benefits of leveraging simulation, to ensuring learners can access training on-demand. Today’s students are comfortable with digital training and they want to be able to access resources on their own schedule, so portable training solutions are critically important.

We’re already applying transformational media technology to support our international turnkey training programs especially in training ab initio pilots before they enter a specific aircraft training track.

What really excites us about transformational media is that it can apply to all types of programs. Any vehicle can be simulated in Prepar3D, along with courseware and training – from a space vehicle, to a ground vehicle to a helicopter and more. Since Prepar3D is a commercial product, there are no export restrictions, making it even easier to take transformational media to any customer who is interested.

Now, a fun question. What’s your favourite flying destination and why?
My favourite destination is Rome, Italy.  I find the history in Rome as well as history in easy-to-reach nearby cities fascinating. Not to mention the friendliness of people and the exquisite quality of food.  On a recent three week trip, I was fortunate enough to enjoy much of what Italy has to offer in Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan and Bologna. My two favorite tours were the Vatican Museum and the ruins of Pompeii.  I enjoyed the hours of walking through Pompeii and imagining what life must have been like during the time just before Mt. Vesuvius volcanic eruption in A.D 79. The most challenging venue was the medieval tower climb in the city center of Bologna; some 482 steps later I reached the top which overlooks the beautiful red roof tops of the outlying landscape against a majestic mountain background.  I am definitely looking forward to visiting Italy again in the future and getting more immersed in the culture.


Andrew Duff
Certification Manager and Deputy Senior Design Engineer in Pilatus’ subcontracted Australian Design Office

Can you explain the role of the Pilatus Australia Design Office, including how / when it came in to being and how it has since evolved?
There is a commercial doing the rounds in Australia at the moment for an insurance company, which has the catch phase of ‘we get you’. The in-country capability provided by the Aquila Engineering operated Pilatus Australian Design Office has since 2004 allowed Pilatus to really ‘get’ its customer, the Australian Defence Force, and to give it what it wants.

The in-country Pilatus Australian Design Office came about because the Australian Defence Force saw it as imperative to the provision of the best possible engineering support. They recognised this would be needed to ensure continued viability and effectiveness of the ageing RAAF PC-9/A aircraft, within the pilot training system. The Australian Defence Force then asked Pilatus to bring the capability into being, which it did.

The Pilatus Australian Design Office was originally intended as an ‘interim’ (two year) in-country capability, ostensibly to recover/improve RAAF PC-9/A viability and effectiveness and to set the aircraft up to remain viable and effective until its planned withdrawal in 2012. The role of the office was to provide immediate response to engineering and logistics issues that arose at both of the main PC-9/A operating locations, Sale and Perth. Such was the success of the support provided that by the end of the ‘interim’ period, it was decided to continue the in-country capability as a ‘permanent’ requirement.

I could go on about the finer details and benefits that the in-country capability provides:  responsiveness; close liaison; eyeballing of issues; working solutions together in real time; faster, more affordable and focused solutions; understanding the wider context; and being empathetic to limitations. However, I think it is the result – the continued viability and effectiveness of the RAAF PC‑9/A aircraft within the pilot training system – which is the best benefit, and probably the most important benefit, the Australian Defence Force were looking for.

Yes Australia, ‘we get you!’ and we’ll continue to ‘get you.’

Can you give us an insight into some of the challenges of civil certified aircraft operating in a military environment and how you overcome them?
The bedrock of aviation regulatory systems governing all design and engineering organisations is a fully working, third party certificated, quality management system. The Pilatus Australian Design Office Engineering Management System (EMS) was developed from the ground up to meet the regulatory requirements of two differing Design Assurance Systems (DAS), using our third party certificated ISO9001 Quality Assurance System as the basis. The resultant EMS we operate within conforms to both the Pilatus EASA Part 21J Design Organisation and the Australian Defence Force Technical Airworthiness Regulation 3 Authorised Engineering Organisations (AEOs).

Whilst these regulations governing the workings of our EMS are different, there is a commonality between these different regulations in the fundamental principles of a DAS. We have been lucky enough to design our EMS/DAS to operate essentially the same way within each of these regulatory systems, and to some extent, pick and choose the most suitable outcomes between the regulatory systems to provide the best possible system.

A clear example of this is our adoption of and interface into the Pilatus system safety environment. The Pilatus system provides a very robust standard which exceeds the minimum requirements defined by the Australian Defence Force regulations, driven by the strong Pilatus regulatory focus on civil aircraft requirements. The difficulties for us, and Pilatus for that matter, is that whilst we are always compliant with the intent of a given Australian Defence Force regulation, there may be some difference in the specific words of the regulation. It then falls on us to prove to the Australian Defence Force regulators that we have a good system compliant with what their regulations require. That said, the Australian Defence Force regulators are becoming far more adept at recognising ‘alternate means of compliance’ with their regulations, and this task is becoming easier, though no less rigorous, as the years go by. That is why it is essential to have a good working interface with your regulators and to work together for the ultimate aim of assuring technical airworthiness. The ultimate safety of the men and women flying the aircraft we support is uppermost on our minds.

Being so far away from the main factory in Switzerland, how does the Pilatus Australia Design Office ensure concurrency and consistency with the practices and changes being implemented across the rest of the company?
The Pilatus Australian Design office, although operating remotely from the main factory in Switzerland, is electronically connected direct into the Pilatus EMS documentation suite. This enables access to the latest iterations of Specs and Standards and all supporting documentation necessary to perform the role remotely. We operate as a virtual department of the Pilatus engineering organisation, with direct points of contact to access information.

The procedures by which we operate provide a clear and simple path to follow in developing design changes to meet client requirements. One such procedure requires us to perform the ‘concurrence of approach’ process, which requires that at the early stages of design development, we provide a concept of repair that we are going to follow. This concurrence step in Switzerland ensures that there has not been a repair already developed for this problem and that the specifications to be utilised in justification of the design are of the latest issue. The process ensures that the client gets the best possible value for money by not duplicating effort previously done and that we are utilising the latest iterations of standards. It is through this process that we have a backup to ensure we have not missed any changes in practices recently implemented within the main company.

Perhaps the best of all though, there is always the good old phone call to follow up on an email sent to ensure that the person on the other end truly understands what it is you are asking for or trying to explain, in your email or report. Quite often a quick five minute discussion results in a very effective and cost saving solution to the client.

Posted on 22 January, 2015



Koh Chai Hong
Team 21 Flight Simulator Instructor and former pilot for the Republic of Singapore Air Force


As one of Team 21’s Flight Simulator Instructors, can you describe your training philosophy and what skills and abilities you work to develop in student pilots?
My training philosophy as a Team 21's Flight Simulator Instructor at BWC Pearce is to train the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Basic Wings Course (BWC) pilot trainees to be thinking pilots. As they are in the basic flying learning phase, it is expected that they will make mistakes, therefore my aim is to teach them how to be alert to recognise their own mistakes quickly and to know how to analyse and take appropriate corrective actions. This will enable the trainees to achieve independence in their flying skills to operate the PC-21 safely during solo flights.

I believe there are two important aspects that will determine if a BWC trainee will succeed as a military pilot - one is attitude, and the other is aptitude. While aptitude may be beyond a person's control, I tell my pilot trainees that their attitude and approach towards flying training are well within their personal control and if adequate effort and diligence are applied, it will definitely enhance their aptitude positively. As such, I do expect my trainees to come equipped with the necessary ground knowledge and pre-flight preparation as stated in the sortie syllabus requirement when they report to me for their Pre-Flight Briefing, otherwise they will not be able to maximise training effectiveness during the simulator flight.

I advise them to push themselves to strive for excellence in their flying and to think ahead in flight. I also focus on Uncertainty Training to develop their alertness, awareness and airmanship aspects as well as emergency handling practice to ensure that they can take care of themselves during solo flights should they encounter aircraft malfunctions in flight.

You have more than 7500 flying hours and many years experience as a flying instructor. How have you seen innovation in technology help support more effective training for tomorrow’s pilots?
We have certainly come a long way compared to the days when I was a student pilot. Innovation in technology has made the mechanics of flying an aircraft that much easier through hydraulics assisted flight controls, HUD and HOTAS, better ergonomic cockpit design to improve seating comfort and G tolerance, more sophisticated avionics and navigation systems, instrument displays and alert warning systems, etc. This means the pilots of new generation aircraft need not work as hard to fly the aircraft but will have a lot more spare capacity to multi-task and focus on airmanship/operational/tactical aspects of their flight operations. They can also replay and review in-flight recordings to analyse and improve their flying skills.

The PC-21 is such an example of a modern trainer aircraft. The use of Flight Simulators to augment flying training is not only cost effective, it is an excellent platform to practice procedures and flying techniques for new exercises/phase of training and enable proficiency in emergency practice without subjecting pilots or aircraft to any risk. Any unsatisfactory flying performance can be 'frozen' for timely debrief and it can be 'snapshot' and repeated until required proficiency is achieved.

The use of computers to aid flying training, such as the newly-developed BWC Desktop Trainer, will enable BWC pilot trainees to learn checks and procedures at their own time and pace. I tell the student pilots that they should capitalise on internet technology to widen their aviation knowledge and they could even use google earth to view ground features of airfields, training areas and navigation routes to be more prepared for their flights.

As the first woman pilot in the Republic of Singapore Air Force, can you share a favorite story or experience from your service?
Perhaps I can share a story that probably led to my becoming a professional military pilot with the RSAF for more than 30 years. I had enrolled on the Private Pilot Licence (PPL) Course with the Singapore Junior Flying Club while studying in college and grew to love flying and was always asking my instructors for flights whenever opportunities arose.

When I completed my Final Handling Test, my flying instructors at the Club, who were retired ex-Air Force military pilots with combat experience, said they could not let me fly anymore as I had completed the PPL Course. They suggested that if I wish to continue to fly, I should write to the Minister of Defence to volunteer as an assistant flying instructor at the Club. I was dumbfounded by this ludicrous suggestion and said to them, "But I am only 18 years old, how can that happen?" Their response was, "If we say you are good, you are good. Anyway, do you want to fly or not? If you wish to continue flying, you lose nothing by asking, even if the answer is no."

So I did as advised and wrote a letter to the Minister of Defence. The Manager of the Flying Club called to decline my offer as they did not have this need but months later, I was invited by the RSAF to join the Air Force as they had decided to recruit female pilot trainees. During my flying career with the RSAF, whenever the going got tough, I always remembered the flying instructors at the Junior Flying Club who encouraged and inspired me and who believed in me when I was a rookie 18-year-old pilot and it kept me going.

From the time I was a student pilot, I have drawn inspiration from this personal motto: "1. Do what you can do best. 2. Do your best in all you do."  As a flying instructor, I often share this motto with my pilot trainees with the hope that it will inspire them to do their best too, especially in adversity.


Posted on 5 November, 2014



Kylie Price with Pilatus team members in front of the PC-21 at the 2013 Paris Air Show

Kylie Price
Pilatus 5428 Program Manager and former
Royal Australian Air Force Engineering Officer


What’s the coolest thing about the PC-21?
At the bottom end of the spectrum, the benign handling allows ab-initio pilots to take their first flight in an aircraft capable of (sustaining) in excess of 300kts at low level – that is pretty cool. 

At the top end, the embedded training system and synthetic weapons system - allowing the training envelope to be extended which ultimately produces more capable and more confident pilots is pretty good.

And if you want something in the middle, the working environment for the instructor; from the stepped cockpit to the avionics the PC-21 is designed to make student monitoring and teaching easier this is also impressive. 

And, I feel obliged to say, it comes in go-fast red.

How can a turboprop trainer replicate what it’s like to fly in an actual jet?
A turboprop can’t replicate an actual jet however, when you hear that the PC-21 has “jet-like” qualities it is referring to the handling and performance of the aircraft as well as the systems.

With a considerably higher maximum speed, roll rate, rate of climb and g envelope than other turboprops on the market, it is able to better prepare students for fast jet and other 5th generation aircraft by reducing the step progression to the next platform. Our customers have been very pleased with the performance and success of PC-21 graduates moving on to jet aircraft platforms.

With respect to the systems, the PC-21 was designed for the 21st century so includes design features that ensure it can provide training for 5th generation aircraft.  For example the Air-Air and Air-Ground Radar functionality feels 100% real and allows you to train exactly the way you will train in your front line fighter aircraft. It is an integrated system, arguably the first aircraft to be designed from the outset as part of a training system.

The PC-21 is a fairly new aircraft. Why should the ADF choose it over a platform with more fleet flying hours?
Well, apart from all the features discussed above, I would add three things – confidence, lifecycle, and purpose-designed.

The PC-21 was certified in December 2004 (I remember the day!) and has already clocked over 60,000 flying hours with Air Forces in Switzerland, Singapore and the UAE and of course it is now entering service in Saudi Arabia and Qatar. However, across the fleet of Pilatus trainers we have accumulated over 3 million flying hours which gives our customers great confidence in all of our products, including the PC-21, and the continued support thereof.

Further to this, if you consider basic product lifecycle theory, the fact that the PC-21 is so new is in fact a great advantage. Being so early in its lifecycle, it has greater capacity for growth and expansion when compared to platforms that are closer to the end of their lifecycles. This is important when looking to acquire a platform that will be able to meet future training needs for maybe thirty years or more - as evidenced by the RAAF PC-9 which itself was a new design when the ADF procured it nearly thirty years ago.                                                                                                                           

As already mentioned, the design of the PC-21 of course incorporates the latest technologies especially when compared to its predecessors.  However, in addition to that it was designed specifically with performance based contracts in mind as that was seen to be the future of military acquisitions. We were so confident in how successful we had been in this regard that we signed up for a long term PBC with our launch customer (Singapore). Finally, the PC-21 was designed with an expanded performance envelope, to provide a cost effective option for Lead In Fighter and other training previously only in the domain of jet aircraft. This provides our customers with maximum flexibility both now and in to the future.


Posted on 8 October, 2014



Martyn Axelsen examines an aircraft engine during a maintenance and repair activity

Martyn Axelsen
General Manager
PC-21 Operations
Hawker Pacific


Can you explain Hawker Pacific’s maintenance and logistics approach?
Hawker Pacific’s business model spans virtually all aspects of the aerospace industry from aircraft sales through engineering, maintenance and supply. The Company primarily operates in the civil market where competition is high, both from within Australia and from abroad, and where market opportunities are variable and fluctuate. Competing successfully in this environment requires the Company to be adaptable, responsive and lean yet innovative and continually improving, with staff being the key asset that makes Hawker Pacific competitive. We take the best from our commercial aviation backbone and apply it to Military Aviation fleet support with customer tailored adaptions.

Achieving regulatory recognition from National Airworthiness Authorities (NAA) is a key competitive advantage for the Company. By holding a range of NAA accreditation, Hawker Pacific is able to demonstrate that we meet high maintenance standards and meet the needs of a number of countries including Australia, New Zealand, UAE, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and China.

Successful maintenance is built upon quality and safety, performance, getting it right first-time, and having robust and timely supply pipeline turnaround times. To achieve this, Hawker Pacific’s approach to maintenance and logistics is to establish open and trusting partnerships with Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and obtain a wide range of OEM representation as Approved Service Centres. This allows us to mix our logistic pipelines with a combination of our own Depot holdings, including strategic Depots overseas, with a variety of suppliers who can meet our timeline requirements.

Staff can be the difference between long-term success and failure, and at Hawker Pacific emphasis is placed on the Company values of Safety, Respect, Focus, Integrity, Accountability and Performance.  Each of these values shapes our employees’ individual approach to our work, our internal relationships and our customer service. Each value is an integral part of the jigsaw that results in the safe generation of commercial and military aircraft, on-time and within budget.

What are some trends you’re seeing in aircraft support needs, and how does Hawker Pacific address them?
Customers want value for money and performance, but without any drop in safety standards and quality. In the area of Government Business, both in Australia and overseas, we see Defence customers looking for innovative approaches in supporting aircraft operations. This not only means providing mission capable airframes from fixed bases, but also being able to provide a responsive and deployable maintenance service.

To address these needs, Hawker Pacific has adopted a number of strategies. We have taken the Civilian Internationally recognised Part 145 standard of maintenance and applied it to the Defence environment. Our Hybrid Airworthiness™ System of Maintenance satisfies the requirements of a military regulatory framework and specific military customer imperatives. This System takes full advantage of the flexibility and efficiency inherent in the Part 145 processes to deliver significant cost savings whilst maintaining effective operational standards at the highest proven levels of safety and quality.

All our current government contracts are output-based performance contracts. We believe in establishing a partnership with our military customers that see responsibility placed with the party that can best manage and be accountable for it. This means that overall risk is reduced for both parties, which results in high confidence in performance and reduced cost through reduced risk.

Our philosophy is to work with our customer to find the best-fit solution, whether that be a total support contract including the provision of aircraft, to providing a full or a partial maintenance organisation or as part of a partnership with other companies providing a team solution such as Team 21. 

In summary, the Hawker Pacific contribution to Team 21 is based on our experience with the Australian Defence Force and provides an innovative solution that sees:

  • Use of efficient civil-based maintenance practices
  • Skill transfer civilian-military-civilian through full integration of military personnel into the maintenance organisation
  • Retention of military capability through an adaptive and agile maintenance organisation that is able to support home and away base operations
  • Best value for money that allows the customer to get the most value out of the contract price – including through innovative approaches to unspecified contract requirements and other unplanned events
  • Risk management that ensures the party best able to manage a particular risk is responsible through the contract for that risk.

What are the challenges associated with aircraft sustainment, and how does Team 21 deal with those challenges?
Being able to sustain an aircraft over a 20-year life in a technology-driven, fast evolving world is a challenge. There are a number of aspects to consider all of which can directly impact on aircraft availability and hence mission success.

Managing aircraft obsolescence is a significant activity. Aircraft are highly reliant on computer technology that is constantly changing.  Life-cycles are typically quite short so use of open architecture and close partnerships with OEMs are vital in order to forecast changes that will be needed in an appropriate timescale such that design and development activities can occur without impacting on the aircraft.

However, obsolescence or loss of a supplier capability can affect any part used in or in support of an aircraft. To combat this, Team 21 uses the established relationships each company has with its suppliers to have advance warning of potential difficulties. This can include use of long-term support contracts, dedicated obsolescence management groups with key suppliers, use of a number of suppliers for the same component and monitoring regulatory changes that have the potential to impact on supply.

In terms of delivering maintenance, qualified manpower is the key resource. A review of the demographics for aircraft maintenance engineers has shown that the profession has an ageing population.  Competition is also high with maintenance organisations operating on commercial aircraft. For military contracts, the typical reliance of ex-servicemen is also becoming a reducing pool as the Military reduces its numbers of maintenance engineers due to out-sourcing contracts and because they also are starting to adopt civilian maintenance practices. Early on, Hawker Pacific decided to invest in training and runs apprenticeship schemes in association with one of Australia’s prime aviation technical colleges. This initiative, alongside ensuring that Hawker Pacific is seen as an ‘employer of choice’, allows us to grow and sustain our critical workforce.

The strength of Team 21 is that it has three well established partners who work together well, whose strengths complement each other and who each in their own right, are experienced and successful in sustaining high performing contracts.


Posted on 26 August, 2014



Chris Huet, left, and Reto Obrist of Pilatus, in front of the PC-21 following a flight exercise

Chris Huet
Business Development
Lockheed Martin Australia and former
Royal Australian Air Force pilot


Why is simulation important in flying training?
Simulation is essential in a modern flying training system. Flight simulators support progressive development of new skills and knowledge. This is particularly important for learning the use of mission systems in a cost effective way, so that students can focus on employing these systems once in the aircraft.

Simulators allow for training which cannot be performed safely in the air, such as responding to complex malfunctions, and provide flexibility in training environments. For example, a student can fly at night in a simulator during daytime or in poor weather on a good day, making training more efficient.

Flying an aircraft is still essential for initial training, but the use of simulation produces more capable graduates in an efficient and safe manner.

What was the most valuable thing you learned in flight school?
Flight school taught me visualisation techniques to use when learning new skills or preparing to apply them in new environments. These techniques stayed with me through my flying career. Even as my experience increased, I would still “chair fly” prior to a flight. When I started flying, I would use a tennis racket as the control column and a shampoo bottle on its side as the throttle. These days, the kids have it easy, with low fidelity part task trainers providing effective ways for preparing for flights and flying through new sequences.

Where’s your favourite flying destination and why?
It is hard to pick between two locations, which both involve mountains and glaciers. It would be either the Rocky Mountains in the western part of Canada or the South Island of New Zealand. Both are challenging but beautiful environments. The confidence and ability that my training gave me allowed for safe flight at low levels through mountain passes and over some of the most spectacular terrain I have ever seen.


Posted on 24 July, 2014

The Proven Solution

Team 21 will compete for the AIR 5428 pilot training system program. This team is currently in its eighth year of a 20-year performance-based contract to provide the Pilot Training Basic Wings Course to the Republic of Singapore Air Force. Learn more

Past Interviews


Andrew Duff
Certification Manager and
Deputy Senior Design Engineer in
Pilatus’ subcontracted Australian Design Office

Click here to learn more


Koh Chai Hong
Team 21 Flight Simulator Instructor and former pilot for the Republic of Singapore Air Force
Click here to learn more


Kylie Price
Pilatus 5428 Program Manager and former Royal Australian Air Force Engineering Officer

Click here to learn more


Martyn Axelsen
General Manager, PC-21 Operations
Hawker Pacific

Click here to learn more


Chris Huet
Business Development
Lockheed Martin Australia
Click here to learn more