FlightSafety International, headquartered in New York, trains approximately 75,000 pilots, technicians, and other aviation professionals each year at its more than 40 locations worldwide. To ensure trainees are taught the latest advances in aviation technology, FlightSafety International is constructing two state-of-the-art learning centers — one in St. Louis and the other in Lafayette, La.

The architect for both structures is GMA Design Group of St. Louis. General contractor ARCO Construction, also of St. Louis, has chosen Kaiser Electric to provide turnkey electrical design and low-voltage wiring for the two facility's lighting, computer, communication, fire, security, and voice-data systems. Furthermore, the electrical contractor is performing the HVAC control wiring. Based in Fenton, Mo., Kaiser Electric employs 155 electricians and 34 staff members, and has a fleet of 60 vehicles.

“We've been involved in this project since the conceptual stage,” says Mike Murphy, vice president and project manager for Kaiser Electric. “We've designed everything from the main distribution equipment all the way down to the low-voltage equipment.”

Neighboring FlightSafety's existing 40,000-square-foot St. Louis facility, the new 80,000-square-foot training center will house classrooms, a computer room, administrative offices, a customer service department, and two 25-foot-high simulator bays that can accommodate up to nine full flight simulators. The 70,000-square-foot facility in Lafayette will provide helicopter training for offshore, EMS, and law enforcement operations and offer courses for the majority of helicopter types operating in the U.S. Gulf Coast region.

According to Murphy, both flight centers are unique in terms of electrical wiring and design because of the advanced technology employed by the simulators, which require both hydraulic and electrically actuated wiring, as well the computers used to record and analyze data collected from the simulators.

“Grounding of these facilities is critical to proper operation of the simulators, and will be tested to meet certain criteria,” he explains. “We also are testing and certifying the data cabling to offer a lifetime warranty.”

The use of all this cutting-edge technology has presented a challenge for Kaiser Electric. To allow for future expansion, FlightSafety International opted to use Cat. 6 wire for communications instead of the originally planned for Cat. 5e wire, sending the electrical contractor's engineers scrambling back to the drawing board.

“As FlightSafety International continues to grow, the company looks forward to employing progressive technologies,” says Murphy. “The decision to use Cat. 6 wire was made midstream in the project, during the construction phase as opposed to the pre-construction phase. So, we were forced to adapt quickly. Cable trays, conduits, and raceways all had to be resized in order to handle the larger communication cables.”

Despite this minor change, the year-long project is expected to be completed on time. Both facilities will be ready for operation in December 2008.

“In addition to gaining two state-of-the-art facilities, FlightSafety International will benefit from consolidating different departments currently spread among numerous buildings into the two structures,” Murphy adds. “Kaiser Electric is pleased to be part of this high-tech project.”