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Flight simulators – training pilots and saving lives

Flight simulator training is crucial for the training of pilots and cabin crew, not only for everyday flying but also in preparation for when things don’t go according to plan. Artemis Aerospace pays tribute to the unsung heroes of aviation accomplishment.

For many people, the only time they think about a flight simulator is when they settle down in front of their Xbox for a quick go at piloting a Dreamliner into Heathrow. It usually ends in disaster with the plane skidding off the runway, but it doesn’t matter, because the erstwhile pilot can log out and wander off to get a coffee. However, for the world’s real aviators, simulator training can literally mean the difference between life and death.

We have all read of the incredible skill under pressure of pilots who have averted tragedy. One of the most memorable incidents, depicted in the 2016 film ‘Sully’, occurred in 2009 when both engines of US Airways Flight 1549 were disabled by a bird strike shortly after take-off, leaving the plane with little thrust at a low altitude. Captain Chesley Sullenberger, unable to make it to an airport, brought the plane down onto the Hudson River in a textbook landing almost unprecedented in commercial aviation. All 155 passengers and crew on the flight survived; the potential death toll had the plane crashed over New York City was unimaginable.

In 2011, a LOT Polish Airlines Boeing 76 performed an emergency landing without wheels after it became apparent that a hydraulic leak was preventing deployment of the landing gear. After dumping fuel to prevent a potential conflagration, Captain Tadeusz Wrona executed a successful landing on the plane’s undercarriage which, bearing in mind that he was unable to apply brakes on touchdown, was a miraculous result. All 231 people on board were saved.

The most recent example many of us will recall is that of the Japan Airlines Airbus A350-900 which in January this year collided on landing with a small plane already on the runway. The collision caused the Airbus’s nose cone to collapse, and both engines and the lower portion of the fuselage caught fire. The cabin crew’s calm execution of the emergency procedures ensured that 279 passengers and crew were safely evacuated.

These examples all demonstrate the importance of simulator training; without it the outcomes may have been very different. Regularly acting out unexpected scenarios enables pilots and crew to switch instinctively into emergency mode, remain calm and keep on top of the situation.

Flight simulators can reproduce just about every eventuality a pilot or cabin crew member is likely to encounter, including engine failure on take-off, landing and in mid-air, wind shear, hydraulic failure, high speed descents, electrical systems failure, structural complications, fuel exhaustion and extreme weather conditions. The ability to cope with these is crucial in keeping everyone on board safe.

To meet advancing regulations, training devices require continual upgrades to match the aircraft types they simulate. Aircraft are upgraded, new aircraft types are launched, and at the same time training on legacy models must continue for as long as those types are in airline service. Like real aircraft, simulators can break down and need refurbishment and enhancement. Finding the right components at the right price, particularly for older aircraft models, can require considerable detective work – which is where Artemis comes in. Our extensive experience of using approved OEM and aftermarket solutions enables us to keep simulators in service and make a significant contribution to aviation safety.

Our expert team is ready to solve your flight simulator downtime issues – why not contact us to find out how we can help?