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Air Baltic Unveils State-of-the-Art Airbus A220 Simulator for Pilot Training
Air Baltic on Tuesday unveiled the newest addition to its fleet, an Airbus A220 simulator. Installed at the airline’s training center in Riga, Latvia, the full-motion simulator features the latest simulator technology that will aid Air Baltic’s pilots when training on the type.
The airline has invested heavily in the Airbus A220, placing orders for and taking delivery of the aircraft back when it was the Bombardier CSeries. The simulator unveiling is the latest step in a plan to convert the Latvian flag carrier to a single type fleet of up to 80 environmentally friendly Airbus A220s.
Martin Gauss, CEO of Air Baltic, said, “We are truly delighted that now we have a state-of-the-art full flight simulator located right next to our headquarters, making the studying process for our pilots more efficient and accessible.”
Prior to operating its own simulator, Air Baltic had to send its crews around the world to different training facilities. The in house addition not only reduces travel expenses but reduces the strain on crews for initial and recurrent training on the type and the airline’s carbon footprint.
“This is also a great opportunity for further development of our Air Baltic Training facilities as such an advanced simulator opens various opportunities,” continued Gauss.
The A220 simulator built by Canadian manufacturer CAE is one of only five Airbus A220 simulators in the world. The other four are located in Canada, Germany, Zurich and South Korea. This is the first and only A220 simulator that meets EASA Issue 2 requirements which includes Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (UPRT), including stalling both in and out of icing conditions.
The simulator took 12 months to manufacture and another two months to install at the Air Baltic facility. This is the first of a planned two A220 simulators Air Baltic will purchase and will supplement the Boeing 737 classic simulator that Air Baltic currently has.
While the airline will have no need for the 737 simulators once it becomes an all-Airbus A220 operator, it won’t be leaving Latvia just yet. Air Baltic confirmed to AirlineGeeks that the airline intends to keep it and contract the use of the simulator and training center to other operators as a revenue generator.
To further maximize revenue, Air Baltic plans to contact out the A220 simulator as well to other A220 operators once their training backlog of their own pilots has subsided. With few simulators available to A220 operators, there is a growing demand for the use of such facilities.
Flight simulators are not the only equipment used in the Air Baltic training center, however, as it is one of the largest aviation training centers in Central and Eastern Europe comprising of three floors of classroom and hands-on training space. A full-sized cabin mock-up or Multi-Purpose Cabin Trainer (MPCT) is used during basic and recurrent training by pilots and cabin crew alike to practice emergencies such as fires and evacuations.
Flying an Air Baltic Airbus A220
AirlineGeeks was given the opportunity to test out the new simulator but before we could fly the jet, we had to start on the trainer aircraft, just like Air Baltic pilots.
First was a flight on Air Baltic’s Diamond Aircraft DSIM flight training simulator. Air Baltic has a fleet of the twin-engine Diamond aircraft based at nearby Liepaja used by its recruit pilots enrolled in the Air Baltic Pilot Academy.
Once familiar with flying the Diamond around the pattern of Riga International Airport in the simulator, I graduated to the brand-new A220 simulator. This state-of-the-art simulator is identical to a real A220 flight deck equipped with the Collins Aerospace Pro Line Fusion avionics including Heads-Up-Display (HUD).
There are two seats behind the pilot and co-pilot seats. One is for an observer and the other one is for the instructor who can control every aspect of the flight scenarios during the simulated flight via computer screens.
After a quick briefing on the simulator and the operation of the Airbus A220 flight deck, it was my turn to take the left seat of the Airbus A220. The simulator was once again set to Riga International Airport and I was cleared for a Runway 36 departure.
I pushed the throttles forward and the twin-engine Airbus sped down the runway until reaching a speed of 120 knots. Pulling back on the sidestick, the A220 soared into the air.
Once airborne, I then hand flew the A220 over the Gulf of Riga and headed back to the airport passing over the city of Riga. Surprisingly, I found the A220 was easier to fly than the Diamond simulator I had just flown. The A220 seemed smoother and less sensitive that the Diamond that I struggled to fly straight.
I flew the simulator back towards the airport hand-flying the entire way. I then executed a successful touchdown on Runway 36 and was able to slow down and exit the runway via a high-speed exit.
Once clear of the runway, I had some difficulty using the small nose wheel steering for the taxi and ended up taking an unauthorized shortcut to the ramp through the snow.
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