It’s a milestone for our flight training department: Thursday morning our recently installed Redbird Flight Simulator was dedicated to enhance and improve our in-house Caravan training.

On Thursday, 22 August 2019, during the little dedication ceremony, Markus Bischoff, MAF PNG’s Crew Training Manager, explained the advantages of the ‘sim’, as everyone is calling the Simulator, “Compared to a real aircraft, the sim is much cheaper to operate and we can use the actual airplanes for operations serving our customers. In the sim, you can practice things that cannot be done in the real airplane, like certain engine failure procedures. These scenarios help us to deal with emergencies from beginning to end. Because of the latter, we as pilots will become much more familiar with the Caravan and thus better equipped for dealing with real emergencies. Through training, we become better pilots as we move from simple exercises to the more complex ones. Training in the sim also builds trust in the systems and capabilities of an aircraft.”

Then, Markus continued his speech by comparing the trust build through the training in the simulator to our Christian life, “In order for our trust in God to grow we need to go through what you could call training. God will give all of us situations in our lives that require trust. As with the simulator, these might be simple things at first and will become more and more challenging as our trust grows. God will give you a challenge, e.g. a call into missions or just to step out in faith and leave your comfort zone. You can accept it or dismiss it, but only one of the two options will make you grow closer to God. And as you go on, the challenges might increase, but with every step, you become more intimate with God (spiritual growth). Just be aware that this no automatically means all will be fine.”

The MAF Mt Hagen team then came together in a circle around the simulator to pray, thanking God for providing the resources through a Dutch business club to purchase this awesome piece of equipment for our program, for the people who prepared the room and where involved in the logistics to get the sim shipped to PNG, through customs, up the highway and built together. May this simulator be a blessing in the training of our next generation of pilots and increase the safety of our operations.

Now, Hansjörg Schlatter, MAFI’s Single Engine Turbine Training Captain, is teaching our Caravan instructor pilots how to use the simulator for training. Hansjörg flew many years for MAF in Uganda and trained pilots to fly the Cessna Caravan. The MAF Uganda program has become an international hub as its training base expands and participates in pilot’s type conversions to and standardisation on the Caravan.

L-R: Mathias Glass, Luke Newell, Hansjörg Schlatter

In one scenario, Luke Newell was flying around Switzerland in fast-changing weather to get familiarised with the simulator. Luke is also one of our instructor pilots who in the future will use sim session for training specific emergency procedures before actually fly them in a real aircraft.

At the moment, Glenys Watson who until recently flew the Twin Otter is the first pilot whose Caravan conversion training is done using the simulator. This week, she started her ground school with Mathias Glass, one of our Caravan Training pilots. Mathias was one of the first instructor pilots getting to fly the Redbird under supervision of Hansjörg. Mathias said that “the principles to fly the Redbird Simulator are the same as flying a real Caravan. No difference there. However, some little bits and pieces take a lot of concentration. The controls feel heavier than in the aircraft itself. The sound is different. The view through the computer screen windows is great, but I can’t see my wingtips… But I got a really good impression that this tool will be a great asset to train pilots for normal and emergency procedures.”

Having the simulator operating here in PNG will enhance our training program and help with the growing needs in the future.