CAE is one of the first sim training firms to use actual accident or incident histories for scenario-based classroom training. The program is called RealCase and it uses recent mishaps experienced by crews operating the same model aircraft as students fly.

One RealCase involves an Citation X crew that had to cope with a partial delamination of the left windshield. CAE and operators tell BCA that this is not an uncommon occurrence in the Mach 0.92 aircraft.

When the event happened, the crew immediately declared an emergency and commenced an emergency descent. But CAE maintains that the Citation X flight manual allows the aircraft to continue the flight because only one of the two windshield plies is needed for structural integrity.

The instructor then asks the Citation X recurrent training class, “What would you do?”

The students' answers necessarily are complex. Some students ask if the airplane with the windshield problem is being operating on a long transoceanic leg where max range performance is critical. They favor continuing the flight at altitude in accordance with the flight manual.

Over land, others say they also would declare an emergency and execute an emergency descent because they consider it prudent to land as soon as practicable at a suitable divert airport. Even thought this contravenes the flight manual recommendation, many pilots say they wouldn't risk having a sudden decompression caused by failure of the remaining windshield panel.

FlightSafety offers similar scenario-based training and risk analysis with its operational day flow system. Clients are taught how to use checklists and make decisions based upon real-life situations that pilots of the same make and model or type of aircraft have encountered. McGowan also says that feedback from clients enables FlightSafety to tailor its ground training syllabus to reflect real-life events that pilots relate during classroom training.

Real-life events also are included in sim training, depending upon an individual client's requirements. For example, pilots may want to practice a circling approach to a particularly challenging landing facility because it poses risk factors they want to mitigate.

However, sim databases contain a limited number of airports that are certified for circling approaches. Thus, it may not be possible to offer a circling approach at the operator's first choice of airports.

If enough operators request a circling approach at a specific airport, FlightSafety may upgrade the sim database with the specific airport and circling approach procedure. Some clients also may elect to pay the outfit to update the sim with the specific airport and procedure. McGowan said the process of adding new landing facilities to the sim and earning certification is getting easier.

The most successful sim training, as with flying actual aircraft, heavily depends upon the quality of pre-flight planning for all contingencies.

Experienced flight departments say that boils down to basics. Flight crews must study systems at home base using books, virtual ground schools and/or on-line reference materials. Chief pilots must identify specific operational risks they want to mitigate and plan to practice those skills in the sim. Managers need to coordinate their individual training requirements with sim training centers. Pilots need to use all available sim time for proficiency training and not just quit when FAA required checks are complete. BCA