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97 AMW boom operators prepare for future KC-46 students

people in front of the cimputer

Instructors assigned to the 56th Air Refueling Squadron test the new KC-46 Pegasus PTT simulator, Dec. 20, 2018, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. The KC-46 is the new in-air refueling aircraft purchased by the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Senior Airman Jackson N. Haddon)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla.(AFNS) -- The 56th Air Refueling Squadron has been training the past few months to ensure they are ready for the arrival of the KC-46 Pegasus. While simulators are useful, scheduling and usage can create delays that slow the process of training. That is where part-task trainers, or PTTs come into play.

A PTT is a simple computer simulator that allows operators to run through checklists and hone their skills without a large simulation or even flying an actual aircraft. The simulator consists of multiple digital screens, which recreate the cockpit of a KC-46. In preparation for the KC-46 arrival, members of the 56th ARS have been training on the PTT to be as prepared as possible.

“The training was used to teach 56 ARS members how to operate the PTT for the boom and pilot systems,” said Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Mellon, a boom operator assigned to the 56th ARS. “We will use this training as a way to help our cadre become proficient in both normal and non-normal procedures as a way to prepare ourselves for aircraft delivery and student production.”

The first batch of 56 ARS instructors were certified last month. This training gives instructors the ability to operate the PTT for use in teaching future students who will eventually become boom operators in the operational world.

“This training will also allow us to take the cadre over to the device to not only let them practice procedures but get them trained on how the device operates,” said Mellon. “They will then be able to take others over to utilize the device.”

A large benefit of the PTT is saving money. Since no traditional maintenance or repair is required for the trainer, this creates an additional and more cost effective way to teach students.

“This device is a great way for us to help develop not only our proficiency but give another avenue for us to teach students,” said Mellon. “The device is more advanced than legacy platform trainers and helps provide more realistic training without having to utilize a simulator or aircraft.”

With the KC-46 scheduled to arrive to the 97th Air Mobility Wing on Feb. 8, 2019, the 56th ARS is prepared for the influx of new students that will come with it. The 97th AMW will remain the home of the KC-46 training program and continue to revitalize the way today’s warfighters develop to meet the operational demands of the Air Force in the future.

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