Test Piloting a New Airbus A350 Flight Simulator: An Engine Fire as Part of This Teaser

N ew York, San Francisco, Tokyo, Seattle, Atlanta and Goose Bay — you know, the airport in Newfoundland and Labrador where airplanes divert in the event of an emergency such as when this Boeing 767-300 aircraft operating as United Airlines flight 958 from Chicago to London had to land there back in June of 2015 — were amongst the destinations on the spontaneous flight itinerary during a solid two hours in an Airbus A350 flight simulator so new that a pilot has yet to be officially trained in it.

Test Piloting a New Airbus A350 Flight Simulator: An Engine Fire as Part of This Teaser

Airbus A350 flight simulator

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

We eventually experienced a fire in Engine 1.

Airbus A350 flight simulator

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

You do not want to see this message next to your gauges on a real flight; but the Airbus A350 seemed to handle the situation well.

Airbus A350 flight simulator

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

Once we “landed”, two fire trucks raced from either side of the airport to meet our aircraft on the runway. The firemen never exited their trucks. Even the flight instructor was amazed at this, as we laughed.

Airbus A350 flight simulator

The runway on which we were to land is off in the distance and visible just to the right of the center divider of the windows. Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

All of our takeoffs and landings had to be visual instead of using instruments because the Instrument Landing System — or ILS — software was not yet calibrated to the hardware.

Airbus A350 flight simulator

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

There are no yokes to be found in the cockpit of this — or other — Airbus aircraft. This cockpit contains for each pilot a joystick; a trackball; a flywheel and even a computer keyboard with which to control the airplane — similar to an expensive video game.

Airbus A350 flight simulator

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

The Airbus A350 flight simulator is quite spacious; and the graphics seen in the “window” are the best yet that I have witnessed — even with cars moving on the highways below. Oh — and we also experienced a snowstorm on one of the flights.

Airbus A350 flight simulator

Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

Here is a nice feature: a map of the airport itself — with runways and taxiways — automatically appears on one of the large displays by the gauges once the aircraft has landed.

With greater than 24 gigabytes of photographs and video footage to sort through, selecting the ones to be featured in at least one future article is going to take me some time — but I plan on posting them for you.

Summary

What can be more fun than piloting an authentic flight simulator? How about piloting one where even the flight instructor is not yet completely knowledgeable on it himself?

That does not mean he is inexperienced, as he knows his way around the Boeing flight simulators with years of experience; so we spent an additional 45 minutes or so in a Boeing 777-200LR flight simulator — complete with such unannounced surprises as crosswinds, wind shear, thunderstorms with lightning, and a bird strike which disabled the left engine before the right engine was disabled as well, which forced a landing without power.

I have never been a passenger on an Airbus A350 aircraft; so experience in the cockpit of the flight simulator was quite interesting.

Get your geek on, your questions ready, and your seat belt fastened for what was a memorable series of flights…

All photographs ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

4 thoughts on “Test Piloting a New Airbus A350 Flight Simulator: An Engine Fire as Part of This Teaser”

  1. JamesP says:

    That looks like a great experience. I gotta do it too.
    A side note about those runway maps that the pilots get after landing – Isn’t it just a bit too convenient? Wouldn’t pilots develop a dependency on those, similarly to those many people that have to turn their navigation app in order to get somewhere?

    P.S. I was in Toronto about two weeks ago and found another one of those diagonal crosswalks

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Actually, some people see it as a way for pilots to better navigate airports unfamiliar to them, JamesP — but you could be correct. I suppose only time will tell.

      Where in Toronto was that second diagonal crosswalk?

  2. Luke Vader says:

    How can I/we get to fly that A350 simulator? 🙂 Looks like a blast.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      If I had it my way, Luke Vader, I would have everyone who is interested have access to a real flight simulator at least once.

      Yes, it is fun — and frankly, I have just as much fun watching someone else become the captain as I do when I pilot the flight simulator myself — but more importantly, the experience offers a significantly greater understanding and respect of the role of a pilot; as well as many of the situations which a pilot might encounter.

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