128th Aviation Brigade / By SSG Neil R. Smith: The mission of Army Aviation is constantly evolving. With the evolution in tactics, techniques and procedures, comes training technological evolution.
The L-7AY Multiplex, Avionics, Visionics, Weapons, Electrical Systems Trainer (MAVWEST) during acceptance testing at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, VA./ U.S. ARMY PHOTO BY SSG NEIL R. SMITH
For more than a decade, the AH-64D Apache Longbow has been the U.S. Army’s premier attack helicopter and has performed outstandingly. In the normal evolution of technology, this tried and true warrior is being replaced by the latest attack helicopter, the AH-64E. It is still an Apache and the Echo model will comfortably slip into the place of the Delta model as the world’s most advanced, multi-role combat helicopter, just adding to the foundation and legacy that was built by the Apache airframes preceding it.
To accommodate this transition, the maintenance training devices need to keep pace. The L-7AY is an AH-64E Apache training device which was developed and built under contract to the Apache Program Management Office (PMO) by Logistics Services International (LSI). The first edition of this trainer was delivered to the instructors who train Apache armament in Alpha Company, 1-210th Avn. Regt. during the second quarter of 2016. The L-7AY Multiplex, Avionics, Visionics, Weapons, Electrical Systems Trainer, or MAVWEST for short, is a crew station and subsystem simulation airframe. It is a dual military occupational specialty trainer in that it is equipped to accommodate both the 15Y, Apache Armament/Electrical/Avionics Repairer and 15R, Apache Repairer. The MAVWEST is an operational device that simulates the AH-64E production aircraft operational systems, and is used to train system familiarization, fault isolation, remove-and-install components, and systems trouble-shooting procedures. This training device provides the ability to simulate an aircraft fault, do the initial analysis, move to trouble-shoot, replace a component and finish it all off with running the maintenance operational checks.
The MAVWEST system consists of three major components; the Instructor Operating System (IOS), the Mobile Power Supply Unit (MPSU), and the L-7AY trainer itself. The IOS is housed in a tower cabinet and contains all the software used to run the simulations and training scenarios. The MPSU looks and functions just like the Aviation Ground Power Unit (AGPU). The design of the device enables connectors to the MPSU, whether it be electric or hydraulic, to be attached to the airframe and function as if it were an actual Apache and AGPU setup. The equipment is designed to be the most advanced, realistic maintenance training platform in the military. The trainer itself is built into an actual AH-64E so you get the look and feel of a real aircraft. There is also sound pumped through the training device adding to the realism. For instance, when you press the button to start the Auxiliary Power Unit, the sound of an APU coming on line is heard.
The L-7AY supports 326 fault isolation procedures (FIPS) over 27 major aircraft systems. These major systems include; the weapon systems, communications as well as the airframe structure. There are 97 Maintenance Operational Checks embedded into the software so that way the student Soldier can run a complete systems check and see if the fault they have been chasing will actually return the aircraft or system to operational status. The software is set up to mimic the processes and procedures of the E Model AH-64 and works in tandem with the Interactive Electronic Technical Manual to provide the students with a realistic training environment. When the trainee selects a button on the Multipurpose Display, it reacts just same as a real aircraft would. Simulation this authentic will better prepare the trainee for actual field work when they arrive at their units.
LSI has also developed the L-7AY trainer with many additional maintenance procedures. For instance, the trainer will allow the 15Y trainees to perform a full CBHK of all weapons and sighting systems. The 15Rs have the ability to perform hydraulic servicing and flight control rigging as well.
I had the privilege of being a member from the 128th Aviation Brigade that did the initial testing, refining and final acceptance tests of the trainer during its build. The team completed over 1,500 individual tests during the product acceptance testing.
The L-7AY AH-64E Trainer is the most advanced and complete maintenance training device on the market. With its design, functions and adaptability this amazing machine will effectively be training the future of Army Aviation Attack maintainers for many years to come.
SSG Neil R. Smith is assigned to the Course Management Office of 1st Bn., 210th Avn. Regt., 128th Aviation Brigade at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, VA. He is a fifteen year Army combat veteran who has been a 68/15Y his entire career with three tours to Iraq and two to Afghanistan.