World’s Coolest Video Game?
FedEx Flight Simulation and Safety
It’s been called the “world’s coolest video game,” and while it is a sensational visual and motion experience, visuals only scrape the surface of flight simulator capabilities in the FedEx Air Ops Training Center in Memphis, TN.
But, that wasn’t always the case says Captain John Hunt, the Boeing 777 Flight Training manager. “Historically, simulator training was not to the fidelity that it is today. Simulators did not have motion, visuals were not that acute, and the FAA required continued training while in the airplane.” Today, the nearly 4300 FedEx pilots and instructors log more than 12,000 annual training sessions in one of the 17 flight simulators, including the MD10, MD11, Airbus 300/310 series, 757, 767 and 777 models.
“When the pilot enters the simulator, it is the exact same cockpit in which they operate; buttons, displays, all of the systems are the same as it would be in the actual jet,” says Captain Hunt. “This dedication to flight simulators highlights the commitment that FedEx has to safety.”
Simulator training is not Pilot Training 101. Pilots have thousands of hours of service before ever being hired by FedEx. Flight simulation is an enhancement, in addition to classroom training, that takes pilots above their previous experience. Some main benefits included activity repetition and increasing levels of challenge. In a simulator, pilots can strengthen their muscle memory, consistency and standardization while they have the opportunity to redo, reposition and reevaluate their own performance along with instructor feedback. Because FedEx flies to so many locations around the world, another unique benefit is that pilots can see and work through those airport locations before experiencing them in an aircraft.
Captain Hunt continued, “FedEx takes advantage of the highest technical advanced simulation today and always looks to the future not only with technology, but with the quality training of the anticipated technology that will become available.” One example is the Head-Up Display Enhanced Flight Visual system also known as HUD EFVS. This device allows for enhanced situational awareness as the pilot looks through a special piece of glass that displays navigational and flight data systems along with critical flight guidance information. In addition, thermal technology called FLIR (forward looking infrared radiometer) provides pilots with a type of “synthetic vision” to clearly see the environment below. This is extremely helpful when landing in low visibility conditions like fog, rain, snow or any other reduced visibility situations.
At FedEx, safety is paramount and the goal at the Air Ops Training Center is to provide the highest quality training available. With flight simulation, the skies will remain safe.