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FlightSafety Dash 8 training page 8

report by neil macdougall

With over 40 learning centres in the United States, China, France and the United Kingdom, FlightSafety International has the world’s largest simulator fleet–more than 150. The sims range from single-engine Cessnas to King Airs, helicopters and Boeing 777s. Courses are just as diversified. Training is available for pilots of the heavier Beech and Cessna singles and twins, not to mention training in police helicopter tactics, water survival and managing in-flight illnesses.

The 55,000 people per year who take FlightSafety courses acquire valuable practical knowledge and hone their skills, although they may not learn how to run the in-flight movie.

Twin Otter simulator lures foreign students
What do pilots from the RCMP, the British Antarctic Survey and China’s Xinjiang Airlines have in common? They all come to FlightSafety’s Learning Centre in Toronto to fly the world’s only full-flight de Havilland Twin Otter simulator. With Transport Canada and FAA Level B certification, the simulator (like another unique one for the Dash 7) can be used for instrument rating renewal, pilot proficiency checks and foreign type ratings.

Twin Otter training is aimed at bush, resource, pipeline, powerline, search and rescue, STOL and parachute operations, as well as the military, corporations and airlines.

“Short-field work causes a lot of crashes,” said Michael Moore, Twin Otter Program Manager. “STOL techniques involve unnecessary risk for little improvement in performance. Operators who limit takeoff power to 45 pounds of torque to save their engines are in peril too.”

The simulator can mimic the low-level wind shear typical of Western Canadian winters. “The first time a pilot sees that he’s descending with full power, he acts like a deer in a car’s headlights.

“Some of the best training comes from an exercise that ends in a crash, for example, when a pilot shuts down the wrong engine. A guy who crashes a simulator never forgets it,” Moore said.

I watched an experienced American pilot do his check ride. The week before, he had successfully managed a real engine failure caused by fuel unporting in a tip tank. But the pressure of the simulator made him glad of a rest after 90 minutes. Which is why simulator cockpits have greater cooling air flow than real aircraft. “It’s good practical training,” he said. Twin Otter pilots at Petro-Canada are required to take the FlightSafety initial pilot course, regardless of experience.

After four years flying Twin Otters in the High Arctic, you might expect Jim Paul to be unenthusiastic about the training. “I’ve learned something new in every section of the course,” he said. “I am amazed and impressed by the number of mods to the aircraft. And surprised and impressed by the simulator. It’s just like the real aircraft.”

During a single season in the Antarctic, Paul made four zero-zero landings on the ice cap after weather rapidly deteriorated. He used the GPS co-ordinates of a large flat area, one of several that he had previously scouted.

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