When I was invited out to visit V Australia‘s 777 on it’s maiden voyage from Seattle – Los Angeles – Sydney earlier this year, poor Amanda Bolger from public relations had no idea what she was signing up for. Sitting in the cockpit with Ken Pascoe, the pater familias of VA pilots, we took a couple of photos and he casually mentioned “Hey, if you come out to Sydney we should take out the simulator.”
Oh, but I was coming to Sydney, Ken, and after a few pestering emails, he finally gave in and invited us to come out to Silverwater, just outside of the city to take the simulator out for a spin.
Meeting Ken out at the Strathfield station earlier this week, we drove up to CAE, where V Australia had a small suite of offices and a simulator installed in a rear, cavernous room. This is where all VA pilots train, both in instrumentation at a computer console and in actual flight operation, inside of the 23 million dollar simulator.
The front of the cockpit is replicated in exact detail to a “white tail” aircraft, a generic 777 that still hasn’t got the exact installed features of VA equipment. A little bit later next month, they’ll be making those upgrades. Behind the pilot and co-pilot seats are an additional three seats where an instructor and observers can curate the flight.
As far as operation, Marty Khoury, another V Australia pilot on hand explained that the graphics and performance are so lifelike, even to the bump of every light in the runway, that sometimes the pilots forget that they’re even inside of the simulator.
So how did Gadling’s flight experience go? Disasterously. But I’ll tell you about that next week.