Have you ever wanted to learn how to fly? Human beings have come close with airplanes and similar types of transport, but those who do it for a living know that one problem can literally send everything crashing down. Tropic Air, one of Belize’s oldest local airlines, made a $500,000 investment in a flight simulator for training its pilots and unveiled it on Tuesday in San Pedro Town. Safety Manager Raul Alamilla told PLUS News that pilots can study airplane motion and other technical matters without putting the company’s investment at risk.
“We have always done training, alright…in the actual aircraft, But there are many advantages to training in a simulator, for example, in the actual aircraft, you will train to a certain extent. You can’t, for example, make an engine catch on fire or have an emergency in the aircraft. You won’t shut down a perfectly good working engine, but in the simulator, we can, and the pilot will have to do all the proper procedures, press the proper buttons and pull the actual levers that he is supposed to do for the procedures which is actually a more real training than in the actual aircraft”.
The word “simulator” suggests that the experience is not real, but Raul Alamilla points out the difference between the model and an actual aircraft.
Mr. Raul Alamilla
“See, it actually has an actual airplane cockpit. It is actually approved by the FAA, which is the Federal Aviation Administration in the U.S. So, it is actually approved. When you’re flying this, you can actually recount as the hours that you actually flew. So, it counts as actual plane time. It is way more advanced than a game, you know? It moves, like I said, it goes up and down, it does everything that the plane does and in a game, you can’t. This is not a game; it’s a serious training equipment!
Reporter: Tell us about the different levers that are in the plane that people wouldn’t think.
Mr. Raul Alamilla: “[That would not be in a game]. Well, for example, the power lever: you don’t have that in your computer. You actually have all the power levers, you have all the levers that control your propeller speeds, your lever that controls your fuel, you have all the switches that controls your ignition, everything that you can imagine that is in an aircraft, is in this simulator; even the fuses; every single fuse that is in the aircraft is in the simulator and we can make them pop and fail as accordingly for training.
Raul Alamilla says Tropic Air remains committed to pilot and passenger safety on its aircraft.
Mr. Raul Alamilla
“We had been training all along, right. And when we began upgrading our fleet, back in 2008 with a more advanced aircraft avionics, our airplanes are equipped with the most avionics and navigation equipment in the world. We realized that we needed more advanced training and pushed towards getting this simulator, so we can do all this training.
Reporter: “Okay. So, tell us about what regime will the pilots of Tropic Air be going through in a regular basis to make use of this?
Mr. Raul Alamilla: “Currently, as regulations, we have to do some training every six months and some, training every year repeatedly…continuous, but we plan to meet those trainings and exceed it. For example if we’ve had to do something every six months, we would probably do it every two months now. So, our pilots can be more active, be more in it, more training”.
PLUS News took the new simulator for a spin after the training. It was built with the help and consultation of Tropic Air’s pilot corps and information technology department but actually assemble by Redbird Flight Simulator agency in Austin, Texas. It is the first of its kind in this region. Tropic Air flies to all district towns and regionally to Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras.