Interview: Wesley Bard Of Lockheed Martin
By Victor Baron
About Wes Bard
Q: What is your role for Lockheed Martin and the Prepar3D team?
A: I am a software manager at Lockheed Martin's Mission Systems and Training business, and I am the technical lead for the Prepar3D® team. In this role, I manage our development team and ensure that we are incorporating feedback from the Prepar3D community into future releases.
Q: When did you first start working with flight simulators? Do you have an interest in real aviation and are you involved in it in any way other than what you do for Lockheed Martin? Tell us about any experiences you've had in Real World Aviation?
A: My background is in software engineering, but aviation has interested me for quite awhile. I look forward to getting up in a Cessna 172 whenever I can. In fact, several of us on the Prepar3D development team are studying towards various licenses. I'm enjoying ground school at the moment.
About The Company
Q: What was Lockheed Martin's reason for deciding to develop a flight simulation program?
A: Lockheed Martin continuously looks for new and cost-effective ways to help our customers rise to the challenges of tomorrow. Thirty years ago, Lockheed Martin worked with customers to introduce simulation to maximize the training experience. Our Mission Systems and Training business currently provides training systems for 36 military aircraft variants, including the most advanced training system ever developed, the F-35 Lightning II. These training systems are engineered to provide the shortest path to learning by incorporating simulation.
In 2009, Lockheed Martin had an opportunity to enter an intellectual property licensing agreement with Microsoft to further develop its ESP™ technology. Lockheed Martin launched our version of the simulation software, Prepar3D®, in 2010 for immersive learning and training.
This is a natural fit for our business as we look to reduce costs for our customers by moving training tasks from aircraft to full mission simulators, and from full mission simulators to part-task and desktop trainers for the right level of technology to meet the learning objective.
Q: Does Lockheed Martin use the simulator in the real world aviation side of the company and if so how?
A: Absolutely, we work across our corporation to advance global security technologies every day, including with our Aeronautics business which develops mobility aircraft like the C-5 and C-130, fighters like the F-16, F-22 and F-35 and trainers like the T-50.
Here's an example. Recently, the U.S. Air Force noted an opportunity to provide cockpit familiarization and procedures training to C-130J aircrews before they enter full fidelity simulators for mission-based training.
Lockheed Martin developed a quickly reconfigurable platform called the Multi-Function Training Aid to provide familiarization and procedures training for aviation and ground vehicles. This training tool uses Prepar3D and commercial-off-the-shelf hardware, and it has integrated touch screen panels, switches, dials and simulated controls.
For C-130J training, we worked with our Aeronautics business to equip the Multi-Function Training Aid with the operational flight program of the actual aircraft. Today, Air Force Special Operations personnel train on the systems at Cannon and Kirtland Air Force Bases.
Q: Where does the Prepar3D department sit in the structure of Lockheed Martin?
A: Our Prepar3D program team is part of Lockheed Martin's Mission Systems and Training business area which develops training systems for the aviation, ground, maritime and cyber domains. Mission Systems and Training also provides platforms like the Aegis Combat System, Littoral Combat Ship and unmanned K-MAX as well as alternative energy solutions.
Q: In what ways does your team interact with the real world aviation side of the company?
A: Vic, let us know if the MFTA example also addresses this question. We work across our corporation to address our customers' challenges every day!