The company has developed the simulator with a “physics engine,” which Kleinsorge says allows the program to be flexible and accurate to various situations.
Servisair initially implemented the gForce simulator at its central deicing facility at Toronto Pearson International Airport in 2006 for training on its Vestergaard Elephant Beta and Beta-15 deicing trucks. It has experienced the upgrades made to the software. “There are now 12 aircraft types we can select to train on. The graphics are much smoother,” says Chris Schock, deicing training supervisor for Servisair. “I guess the biggest selling feature is the physics package that they’ve implemented into it. Before basically the snow would come off in squares; now we can select variable amounts of both snow and ice, and it is a more accurate representation of how it really appears on the aircraft. The contamination will actually come off the aircraft surfaces how it does in the real world.”
Servisair has since added an additional simulator at the facility for two operators to use simultaneously to capitalize on the teamwork benefits. “It’s a team environment out there,” Schock says. “We want to promote and encourage that teamwork environment through team-based learning.
“It’s more efficient. On the simulator not only do we deice, simulate vehicle movement and positioning … we now can encompass many different aspects of the practical training curriculum on the simulator including communications and proper contamination removal techniques,” he says.
MPRI has continued to improve the technology and is currently working to accurately portray the “physical aspects” of weather, including precipitation and wind that could occur during deicing, according to Kleinsorge.
Deicing Simulation Heats Up
Another company has taken note of the benefits of simulated training for deicing. KaTron Inc., based in Turkey, is currently developing software for deicing. The simulation company has been in the business of developing technology for the defense aerospace industry, and looked to deicing as another opportunity.
“In our region what we learned was most of the airlines don’t have much opportunity for deicing, but to continue certifications, they have to do training every year ... the best solution is to get the training on the simulators,” says Tarcan Kiper, CEO of KaTron.
“We have a different design approach for deicing,” he says. “It’s not a desktop system, like a computer game. We build the replica of the actual equipment, but this replica equipment doesn’t sprout any chemicals; it’s on the virtual screen. We think this is a better way to train any operator using deicing equipment.”
Kiper says the company should have a version of the simulator available in a few months, but they are working to find partners in OEMs to move forward.
Simulation, a Larger Trend
KaTron has also developed a reconfigurable pushback simulator both for conventional and towbarless operations, and is expanding into other types of ground support equipment, according to Kiper.
MPRI also developed a simulator for conventional pushbacks. At the inter airport Europe 2009 show in Munich in October, the company says it plans to unveil a towbarless tractor simulator, which it partnered with JBT AeroTech to create for its Expediter line of towbarless tractors.
Global Ground Support has started the initial development of a pushback simulator, according to Walsh.
Airside SimuDrive, in partnership with Dinther Product Design Ltd., has developed another type of simulation that aims to train ramp employees to drive safely on the ramp. They have created a program that puts the driver behind the wheel of a generic vehicle or a generic pushback tractor — which can be provided with customizable parameters — and was designed to allow a user to familiarize themselves with driving on the ramp around aircraft.
“The simulator runs scenarios where airside drivers are forced to make decisions and apply airside driving rules,” says Paul van Dinther of Dinther Product Design. “These scenarios can include theory questions where the simulator decides based on performance which questions to ask.”