Horizon Air’s new pilots will be soon using simulation technology developed by Danish company VRPilot which has virtually reconstructed the 737 flight deck as a training aid for pilots who are new to the aircraft.

Pilots at Alaska’s wholly owned regional partner will soone be able to learn the layout of the flight deck and the purpose of every switch and button. This will offer new pilots an opportunity to put themselves “inside” the flight deck where they may need to crane their neck or lean to reach a switch is a much more realistic teaching tool than photographs in a book or video tutorials.

“One day, our pilots are flying into remote communities above the Arctic Circle,” the airline said. “The next, they’re flying into some of the busiest airports in the country. Our pilots must be able to handle any issue that might arise in flight – from blizzard conditions to congested airspace – and we rely on rigorous pilot training standards to safely fly our guests across our network.

As we’re hiring hundreds of new pilots at Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air, we’re ensuring everyone is up for the task and meets our high standards. To help with this, we’ve invested in new technology to expand our training department.”

Virtual reality will augment existing traditional training techniques and the airline hopes it will result in better-prepared pilots, higher success rates through training and more time for complex instructor-led training activities. “With this technology, pilots can familiarize themselves with the location of switches before they step into a simulator,” it said.

This technology will also provide an opportunity to use virtual reality in our other workgroups like maintenance and engineering, ground service and our flight attendants.

Alaska said that with so many pilots coming through training, it needed more flight simulators. “In our largest simulator order ever, we’ve ordered two new fixed-base simulators and three new full motion simulators. These training devices are being installed throughout 2023 and all will be operational by the end of 2024. This will bring us to 18 fixed-base and full motion simulators.”

Horizon Air has also ordered an additional simulator to train pilots on the now single fleet of Embraer E-175 aircraft, giving it two owned simulators and priority access to a third in Seattle.

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