News / USA

Could More Realistic Flight Training Prevent Some Crashes?

Authorities think so, and they've designed simulators that shake, rattle, and roll

U.S. space agency simulators help prepare airplane pilots for crisis situations. But critics say they don't adequately replicate out-of-control situations.
U.S. space agency simulators help prepare airplane pilots for crisis situations. But critics say they don't adequately replicate out-of-control situations.

Multimedia

Audio
Ted Landphair

In the mock-ups of airplane cockpits called flight simulators, pilots learn or perfect take-offs, landings, and how to quickly employ sophisticated electronic instruments in today's jet aircraft.

What they don't learn so well, apparently, is how to deal with sudden, potentially catastrophic emergencies.

Computer screens can simulate spins and twists and free falls, but until recently they have not been able to reproduce the yawing and shaking that can suddenly and ominously confront and panic a pilot.

The U.S. Army Air Force used a crude simulator, bolted to a platform that bounced and shook, to train pilots during World War II. This one is preserved in a museum.
The U.S. Army Air Force used a crude simulator, bolted to a platform that bounced and shook, to train pilots during World War II. This one is preserved in a museum.

The aircraft company Boeing calculates that between 1999 and 2008, almost 2,000 people died worldwide in crashes in which pilots lost control of big aircraft that might have been saved.

A recent and heavily studied example occurred in February 2009, when pilots of a turboprop encountered icing conditions as they approached Buffalo, New York, in a snowstorm. When the plane began to shake and stall, the lead pilot jerked the controls to turn the wings upward, when turning the plane's nose downward could have saved it. It crashed, killing all 49 people aboard and a man on the ground.

The USA Today newspaper reports that NASA researchers and private companies have developed simulators that realistically duplicate the shaking, rollovers and final, silent dives that occur when a big plane stalls.

Some flight simulators make use of cameras and terrain mock-ups. The terrain can even appear dead ahead in a free-fall crisis replication.
Some flight simulators make use of cameras and terrain mock-ups. The terrain can even appear dead ahead in a free-fall crisis replication.

There's no assurance that such a simulator session would enable every pilot who confronts a real emergency to gain control of a wildly pitching, falling aircraft.  

But Michael Barr, who teaches aviation safety at the University of Southern California, told the newspaper that pilots should not be given licenses until they have shown they can successfully pull their mammoth airplanes out of violent, rocking and shaking calamities and stalls.  

Even if they are make-believe.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regreti
X
Zana Omer
March 28, 2015 1:19 AM
Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Virginia Tavern Takes Patrons Back to Medieval Times

European martial arts are not widely practiced and are unknown by most people. A tavern in Old Town Alexandria, outside Washington, wants to change this by promoting these fighting techniques from medieval times. Through combining visual arts, martial arts and culinary arts, this tavern brings medieval history back to life. VOA's Yang Lin and Helen Wu report.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More