As a weather-driven event, aircraft deicing allows for little practical training before operators are tested on the deicing pad. Evolving simulation technology has presented another training option.
It’s a tool that developers have claimed the benefits to include familiarizing operators with equipment and the deicing process without the dangers encountered on the ramp, reducing the cost associated with running equipment for training, as well as an opportunity to work on team dynamics.
From Computer to Cab
Dennis Endres, supervisor of deicing operations and quality control at ASIG, has used a Global Ground Support deicing simulator for training and has seen an advantage for new recruits.
Having trained a new recruit on the simulator, Endres notes that the operator had a high level of performance in the field. “It gave him the ground level instruction to not only understand what he had to do, but to know what he was going to be up against once he actually did get in there,” he says. “When we actually put him in a deice truck and allowed him to deice an airplane for the first time, it was if he had never stepped foot in a simulator and had maybe two or three years of deicing experience.”
Endres adds that the recruit will be brought back to train other operators on the simulator.
“It’s a great option,” he says. “You’re not spraying deicing fluid; you’re not operating trucks. And if you get somebody who is a little bit leery of getting close to a piece of equipment, you certainly want them to damage something in the simulator in reference to running into an airplane. All in all the time and expense is well worth it.”
Global Ground Support
It’s a sentiment that developers such as Global Ground Support LLC hope will catch on.
As a manufacturer of deicing trucks, Global Ground Support rolled out the initial version in 2007. It began developing the simulator as an option for customers to familiarize themselves with its deicing trucks — and ultimately it has served as a selling advantage.
“We had a customer that required a simulator,” says Jeff Walsh, vice president of sales and service at Global Ground Support. “In order for us to bid on this large deicer purchase, we had to have a simulator.”
The company set out to create its own simulator, working with ForgeFx, a software development company. Since its inception, the simulator has undergone several updates, with the newest version due out in August 2009. It will feature the actual joysticks from Global deicing trucks, which Walsh says will enable the trainees to better acquaint themselves with operating the equipment. The newest version will also feature two more models of the company’s deicing trucks, the ER2875 and 2200 open bucket.
The company has also set a focus on improving the deicing experience. Walsh says the simulator now includes a fluid dynamics package and in August will feature 10 models of aircraft.
And the development goes on. The company is also working on adding a component to account for interplay between wind speed and fluid dispensation, according
MPRI: gForce Product Division
MPRI: gForce Products Division has also developed a simulator for the market. Rolling out the initial version in 2006, the company partnered with Vestergaard and JBT AeroTech to include its deicing equipment in the software. Apart from the equipment design, MPRI has also focused on upgrading the deicing experience.
“We started out approaching it as what we call a ‘part-task’ simulator,” says Jeffery Kleinsorge, program director of MPRI gForce Products. “You modify the joystick unit so that it can be plugged into a computer with a simulated airport environment. But then our next step was to actually focus on the deicing task. Now, in addition to becoming familiar with deicing equipment, you can actually use that deicer to melt the snow off an aircraft.”