The Grob G 115 is an advanced general aviation fixed-wing aircraft, primarily used for flight training. It is built in Germany by Grob Aerospace GmbH. The E variant with a 3-blade variable pitch propeller is in Royal Air Force service as an elementary flying trainer.
The aircraft is constructed of advanced composite materials the main fuselage and each wing is a single piece. It has a fixed Tricycle undercarriage with spatted wheels, a short nose bearing the 180 hp engine and a 3-bladed variable-pitch propeller. The cockpit features a broad canopy and all round vision, with side-by-side seating for pilot and student. The wings are tapered with square tips and the empennage consists of a large fin and rudder with an oblong tailplane with square tips mid-set to the fuselage.
The aircraft is fully aerobatic (to +6G and -3G)
The Tutor, until 2005 was used by RAF University Air Squadrons to provide Elementary Flying Training (EFT) to university students mainly sponsored by the RAF, however,from 2006 UAS students are no longer taught EFT. UAS students now follow an unassessed flying syllabus, very much similar to that of EFT, which was recently added to following calls for more advanced modules. UAS students now follow a 36 hour basic course, with the possibility of completing the new, as of 2007 advanced course, which aims to teach low level navigation, formation and aerobatics, to solo standard level. The only units to now teach EFT on the Grob Tutor, are the three separate squadrons of No.1 EFTS, based at RAF Cranwell, Wyton and Church Fenton. These reserve squadrons teach direct entrants and former UAS students the EFT syllabus, afterwards the students are streamed according to ability to the next Fast Jet, Rotary Wing or Multi-Engine flying course. The Tutor is also used by Air Experience Flights to provide flying experience to cadets of the Air Training Corps and Combined Cadet Force. The Tutor replaced the Scottish Aviation Bulldog in these roles in the late 1990s. Unusually, the Tutor fleet is owned and maintained by a civilian company, VT Aerospace, and carries British civilian G-BY** registrations under a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme. The aircraft are painted overall white with blue flashes and RAF roundels. The G115 costs around £150,000
Specifications (G 115)
For any elementary training aircraft a large number of minor incidents are expected, reflecting the inexperience of the pilots more than any flaws with the aircraft. Although there have been three major incidents in its RAF service to date, the Tutor has an excellent safety record when compared with its predecessors the Scottish Aviation Bulldog and the de Havilland Chipmunk.
The first serious incident occurred in June 2004, when a Tutor lost a propeller blade and its canopy in flight. The aircraft was landed unpowered in a field, where damage was also sustained to the undercarriage. Both pilots were uninjured. Subsequent investigation revealed cracking in the propeller blade roots across the fleet, which was grounded for several months as modifications were made.
A second serious incident occurred on 11 February 2009. Two RAF Tutors operating air experience flights from RAF St Athan had a mid-air collision. All four occupants were killed, a pilot and a female Air Training Corps cadet in each aircraft.
A cadet pilot was awarded a "green endorsement" after she landed an RAF Tutor after suffering an instrument and radio failure and despite having only 14 hours flying time.
A third serious incident occurred on 14 June 2009, when a Grob Tutor collided in mid-air with a civilian glider. The two people in the Grob Tutor: Flight Lieutenant Mike Blee and Air Cadet Nicholas Rice, were killed. The glider pilot parachuted down, and survived.
Published - July 2009
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