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Angel Aviation’s New Simulator Aims to Help Pilots Avoid Controlled Flights into Terrain

Dec 8, 2023 | News, Transportation

The Redbird Flight Simulator at Angel Aviation helps pilots train for unexpected conditions.

Angel Aviation

Merrill Field-based flight school Angel Aviation recently acquired a Redbird Flight Simulator, one of few simulators available and open to the public in Anchorage.

“We’re probably the only sim center on Merrill Field. Others might have desktops; this is a partial motion simulator,” says Ralph Gibbs, director of safety for Angel Aviation.

Keeping Current and Proficient

To legally fly in instrument-only conditions, pilots must perform six instrument-only approaches every six months. But instrument-only conditions can crop up without warning, Gibbs says. Flying through a cloud is an instrument-only condition that can happen unintentionally.

The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) states that flying from visual flight conditions into instrument flight conditions is the worst weather-related cause of accidents each year, with a fatality rate of 86 percent in non-commercial fixed-wing aircraft. AOPA points out that it’s not just pilots with visual-only flight ratings who crash; one-third of those accidents involve pilots that are instrument-rated.

Gibbs says that’s where simulator training can help.

“More importantly than just being legal, it also keeps you proficient,” he says.

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Gibbs notes that when he was director of aviation at Eastern Kentucky University, he was responsible for pilot training curriculum. He changed the program to add fifty hours of mandatory simulator training. Students’ first-time pass rates—the number of times it took them to pass their training—went from two students passing the first time they were tested to sixty-six in the year after Gibbs introduced the added simulator training.

A trainer walks a student through the simulation.

Redbird Flight Simulations

The simulator also helps pilots train for situations that are too dangerous to practice in an aircraft, such as engine failure when flying low to the ground.

Gibbs notes that Angel Aviation has different flight panels and training modes available: legacy panels for those who are familiar with older-model aircraft, panels for pilots who want to work with the Garmin G1000 electronic flight instrument system, multi-engine training, single engine training, and more.

“We have training for most of the aircraft on Merrill Field, excluding turboprops,” he says. “It’s open to anybody—the entire aviation community—to make sure they have their six approaches every six months so they are both current and proficient.”

For more information, contact Angel Aviation at info@AngelAviation.com.

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