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

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down nearly three percent, while US market indexes were off around two percent in early trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs