Situated at the intersection of fervor, strategic investment, and disruptive innovation, the Neo Energy Aviation Academy (NEA) exemplifies the future trajectory of aviation training. Central figures of the academy, Gunnar Hasse and Tom Reinert, have illuminated the genesis, goals, and transformational methodologies employed at NEA. As NEA’s Managing Director and Accountable Manager, Gunnar Hasse, and NEA’s Head of Sales, Tom Reinert, shed light on the avant-garde strategies the Academy is implementing to shape the future of flight test training.
NEA’s vision, securely anchored in robust financial support and enduring commitment to the discipline, validates its resolution to redefine the future of flight test training. The academy’s conception was the outcome of a comprehensive study conducted by Harms Aviation, sponsored by a private equity investor and a training device manufacturer. The initial working title, “special purpose flight academy,” symbolizes NEA’s exceptional mission to evolve as a technology-centric, world-class institution for flight test training. The preceding three years have witnessed an unwavering focus on building the groundwork for a sustainable market presence, fortified by substantial monetary investments.
Gunnar Hasse comments, “Investments in aviation are perennially challenging, and establishing a training organization outside of the customary purview even more so. Our objective, however, is to create a future-oriented, first-class flight test academy, servicing the industry’s complex and specialized training requirements.”
Germany’s first EASA Flight Test ATO DE.ATO.217
Distinguishing itself from traditional aviation training methodologies, the Academy has adopted the competency-based training model (CBTA). An extrapolation of EASA rules for flight test training, the CBTA model adopts ICAO competencies at its core, amplifying flight test competence and incorporating additional observable behaviors. This progressive model facilitates the Academy in delivering profound insight into the quality of training and personal development of its students.
A cornerstone of the Academy’s practical training approach is its varied fleet of aircraft. In compliance with EASA regulations, the academy aims to maintain a diverse array of at least ten different aircraft types. This assortment ensures students acquire hands-on experience across a spectrum of aircraft, each uniquely designed to simulate real-world flight scenarios.
Tailored Learning for Unique Needs
The academy’s commitment to tailor courses based on each student’s specific needs is intrinsic to its mission. Tom Reinert elaborates, “Our flexibility is not confined to the choice of aircraft used in training. We can modify any course or module based on customer requirements, delivering bespoke training programs that cater to specific needs.”
As NEA casts its eyes on the future, it does so with a broad vision and well-articulated objectives. The inaugural Fixed Wing Competence Level 2 Test Pilot Course has already started, and other specialized short courses have been conducted. The remaining goals are near-term objectives, which include launching the inaugural Fixed Wing Competence Level 2 Lead Flight Test Engineer courses, bridge courses, and full Competence Level 1 courses over the next two years. Concurrently, the Academy is progressively evolving an array of short courses, utilizing the proprietary fleet of unique aircraft at Neo Energy’s disposal. The Academy places significant emphasis on offering a comprehensive selection of its own aircraft and simulators and has made substantial investments to ensure this. Recognizing the potential of strategic partnerships, they aim to elevate their training programs to unprecedented levels.
The Academy continues its innovative streak, crafting a unique training DNA, notably through a partnership with MultiSim. This collaboration not only equips the Academy with cutting-edge Virtual/Mixed Reality simulation devices and variable stability simulation, customized for its training programs but also aims to establish academic partnerships. The goal is to offer a rigorous academic underpinning, enabling students to graduate with a university degree, a process that is notably more involved in Europe compared to other continents. Thus, through this collaboration with MultiSim NL, the Academy is continuously advancing its training methodologies and tools.
Examining the Academy’s pioneering methodology further, we explore their implementation of the Competency-Based Training and Assessment (CBTA) model. Endorsed by ICAO and EASA, CBTA is revolutionizing the civilian pilot training landscape. Traditional assessments that focused on the completion of a defined set of tasks, such as managing an engine failure on take-off, are evolving to encompass a more nuanced approach to training due to the unpredictable nature of real-world failures.
This issue of preparing for the unknown becomes particularly significant in test pilot training, given the wide range of missions test pilots undertake. Tom Reinert shares insight from a Test Pilot Symposium, “We don’t know what we don’t know.” This wisdom underscores the need for a more comprehensive approach to training, incorporating not just technical skills, but also competencies such as communication, decision-making, and leadership. This holistic approach enables the Academy to offer trainees invaluable insights into their strengths and areas for development.
Neo Energy Aviation aspires to cement its position as a significant player in the European flight test training market. It aims to earn recognition as a respected provider of customer-centric specialized training, driving expansion in the flight test market with its unique competency-based approach.
Their innovative approach has already started bearing fruit, as evident in their joint venture with Harms Aviation. Here, they trained B777 instructors in Upset Prevention and Recovery Training. This training, conducted using the state-of-the-art Desdemona simulator from MultiSim, not only provided critical hands-on experience but also helped integrate this advanced technology into their regular training regimen. The valuable feedback and crucial training data collected have further equipped the academy to refine its training programs.
Pioneering Competency-Based Aviation Training
NEA’s unique success is attributable to its team of dedicated professionals from diverse aviation areas, offering a broad range of expertise and decades of experience. The synergistic blend of experts from both military and civilian aviation has enabled the academy to provide specialized knowledge from both areas. “We are extremely fortunate that we were able to assemble a team of very highly dedicated professionals from all aviation areas. I am more than proud of what our team has achieved over the last three years,” shares Gunnar Hasse.
In conclusion, the Neo Energy Aviation Academy serves as a beacon of innovative, personalized, and forward-thinking training in the aviation industry. With its unique approach, strong foundation, and highly experienced team, it heralds a bright future for flight test training.
The team members of Neo Energy Aviation Academy: Profiles and Credentials
|CAT1 Course Location
|Experience in Training Organizations
|Head of Training
|Nearly 4 decades in the aviation industry with roles in engineering, airworthiness certification, and management.
|MSc in Aeronautical Engineering, Commercial Pilot Licences for airplanes and helicopters, EASA Category 1 Fixed-wing Test Pilot and Flight Test Instructor ratings.
|National Test Pilot School, USA
|FI Aero Club Clement Ader, Muret and Aerobatics Instructor bei Midi-Pyrenees Voltige, France.
|Test Pilot and Instructor
|Accumulated over 10,000 hours of flight time, various marine and maritime training programs, flight instructor at French Flight Test Center EPNER, test pilot at AIRBUS.
|Aerospace Engineering, Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL), Test Pilot (CAT 1) training, TRI and TRE qualifications for A330/350 and A320 aircraft.
|USAF Test Pilot School, USA
|French Flight Test Center EPNER Verkehrsfliegerschule der Deutschen Lufthansa, Bremen; Military Instructor since 1994 and TRE 320 with Airbus since 2003, A330/350 later
|Chief Flight Instructor
|Corporate pilot, military QFI and test pilot, more than 8000 flight hours, including 1250 hours in experimental flight test, 2500 hours as an instructor and 1060 hours on rotary wing.
|EASA flight test rating Category 1 with FTI rating, EASA, FAA, ICAO San Marino and Transport Canada ATPL.
|CFI @ International Test Pilots School (ITPS) Founder, Accountable Manager, Head of Training and CFI @ Fly 7 Executive Aviation SA from 2005 to 2014 Military Instructor B1 since 2012
|Test Pilot and Instructor
|30 years in aviation, served in the French Air Force from 1992 to 2016, head of training at International Test Pilots School (ITPS), seasonal pilot for CONAIR.
|Master’s degree in Aeronautics, Fighter Pilot wings, FAA Airline Transport Pilot certification, French EASA Commercial Pilot Licence. EASA CAT1 flight test rating and FTI rating and Transport Canada ATPL
|US Air Force Test Pilot School, USA
|HT @ International Test Pilots School (ITPS)
Written and edited: Katerina Urbanova EIC@ACE
Photo credit: NEO Energy Aviation Academy