An experience of a lifetime
Rashidah Khuthairi leans forward in her seat, eager to hear everything that the instructor, Zulkefli Che Ya, is saying. Seated next to the instructor and also listening attentively is Rashidah's father, Khuthairi Abdul Rahman. Father and daughter are seated in a Boeing 777-200 simulator as participants of our MH Flight Simulator Experience, which until now, was reserved for professional pilots.
This unique programme not only gives you the chance to visit a flight deck (albeit a simulated one) but also to experience the feel of flying an aircraft. Zulkefli, who is also a Simulator Engineer with Malaysia Airlines, explains that there are various steps involved but to avoid confusing participants, only some general demonstrations for taking off and landing are shown.
During a simulated flight, participants will be guided on how to take off and land the plane. The instructor sits behind the captain's seat, where he can access a built-in system that lets him ‘create' a number of flight conditions. If they are applicable and available, these include weather change (snow or rain), turbulence and engine failure. "Everything you see in the simulator is exactly the same as in the actual aircraft, including all the buttons, levers and display units," says Zulkefli.
Malaysia Airlines owns eight aircraft simulators: Boeing 747-400, Boeing 777-200, Airbus A330-300, Airbus A380, two units of Boeing 737-400, Boeing 737–800 and a Fokker 50. Most of these advanced Full Flight Simulators are equipped with full motion system, a high-quality daylight visual system and a high degree of realism to create a flying experience that's as close to the real thing as possible.
Of course, our pilots go through a much more stringent training that what is shown during the simulator programme. "Pilots are required to attend a three-day proficiency check every half-yearly, as part of DCA's (Department of Civil Aviation) requirements," says Captain Edward Lewis, who's been flying for 25 years and teaching for seven. Every test presents a different set of challenges. "For example, this second half of the year, we test them on a five hour Perth to KL route. Along the way, we'll simulate all types of situations that require quick decision-making," Captain Lewis reveals.
For Rashidah and Khuthairi, the chance to experience the simulated flight deck environment is almost too good to be true.
"I was awed by the magnitude of the control area as it looks much smaller in movies or TV," says Rashidah, adding that she never thought a simulator would look so real. For Khuthairi, it has heightened his admiration for pilots. "This has shown me being a pilot isn't easy at all," he says. "I'd recommend corporate people, especially frequent flyers, to experience for themselves what it's like to be behind the ‘wheels'."