Alaska And Hawaii Aim For Specialized Pilot Training
The FAA is working with several specialized aviation groups to create terrain-awareness simulation training to improve air tour safety in Alaska and Hawaii. The training would target new commercial pilots flying air tour routes and involves visual cue-based simulator training to acclimate new air tour pilots with their route of flight under various meteorological conditions from CAVU to severe weather. The goal is to familiarize pilots from outside the state or new to a geographical area with conditions that warrant a turn-around or a landing at an alternate airport. Visual checkpoints are highlighted in the simulator and pilots are trained to revise their decisions based on conditions at each point and are graded on their decision-making. The training developed from authorities seeking an end to avoidable CFIT accidents in the region and relies heavily on accurate 3-D realistic geographic data, which, in Alaska, isn't always easy to come by.
Working together with the Alaska Aviation Safety Project, E-Terra LLC (a geographical information company) is working to enable three-dimensional imagery to provide the most realistic simulation environment. E-Terra hopes to also provide services to operators in the Hawaiian Islands. Manager of the Alaska Regional FAA Safety Team, David Karalunas, told the Alaska Journal, "We believe that by providing realistic flight simulations to these pilots, we have cut down the CFIT (controlled flight into terrain) crashes because pilots are aware of how it looks before they fly into these passes or if they are rusty and just don't remember, they can look before they fly."