Trainee pilots fly high with SimPilot

Airways NZ is a CWEA finalist in the tertiary and commercial education category

Painted runways on ping-pong tables and sewing-machine engines driving wooden aircraft suspended on wires — this was what passed for a simulator at Airways New Zealand’s training centre for air traffic control students.

No more. Now they can get a taste of the real thing with Total Control, a fully functional simulated tower environment, featuring a 360-degree field of view. Developed by Airways New Zealand, in collaboration with Animation Research, Total Control incorporates real-time aircraft depiction and performance, and both emergency and complex traffic scenarios. It can also simulate any combination of weather.

Airways New Zealand’s goals for Total Control include students reaching a higher level of skill before transferring from the training centre to on-the-job training, increased security and cost reduction.

Off-the-shelf simulation tools are usually expensive, but Total Control was designed to be affordable, through the use of standard PCs and low-cost LCD screens. It also reduces the need for specialist simulator technicians, with the SimPilot application interface allowing trainees to control and “fly” aircraft themselves.

Benefits of the Total Control simulator also include its ability to simulate multiple locations and switch quickly between them; its visual graphics, and its usability — students and instructors can create, and take part in, exercises, and control the simulation world, without the aid of specialist simulation technicians.