Safe Airfield Operations

July 8, 2000


Simulator helps reduce runway incursions

Jordanna Smida, associate editor

July 2000

BALTIMORE — A new Driver Trainer System (DTS) from FAAC, Inc., is a simular-based training system for airports designed to aid crews in the safe implementation of maintenance, snow removal, and emergency operations.

The DTS system was one of several technology-related products on display at this year's annual meeting of the American Association of Airport Executives, convened here in May. FAAC, Inc., is an Ann Arbor, MI-based company specializing in designing, developing, and manufacturing simular-based training systems. It designed DTS to provide airport crews with a variety of driver training, including route familiarization, rules of the road, radio communication, emergency response, snow removal, and basic driving skills.

A desktop simulator or a variety of cabs are available for training programs. Vehicle cabs are designed to have the exact same controls as the vehicle in the simulator software. A variety of models are available and include snow removal equipment, emergency response vehicles, and administrative vehicles.

The program software allows airports to interchange vehicles as needed and it can be customized to any airport.

"We adapt it down to the closest detail so that when you drive on the service road or the taxiway or ramp, it is the exact airport," explains Jerry Cohen, simulator sales for FAAC. FAAC uses an airport's CAD drawing for the layout and then takes pictures of the airport's signage, lighting layouts, taxiways, and gates, both during daylight and at night, Cohen says.

Weather conditions and traffic are then created for the program. All possible weather conditions for an airport are included in the program, and the traffic resembles real-life vehicles that are interactive with the drivers in the simulator, Cohen explains.

"We can make the traffic passive or aggressive just like what happens on the road so we can test new drivers on how they react in different situations," Cohen states.

Training AT any time
DTS allows emergency responders to practice their maneuvering skills at high speeds safely. "They don't wear the trucks out and don't put anyone in danger," Cohen says.

The DTS also allows airport crews to practice their plowing in the off-season. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport has purchased simulators "to enhance productivity on the airfield for snow removal operations," says Vincent Petitpren, director of maintenance and power, department of airports, Wayne County.

The department has two simulators to train simultaneously, which allows the drivers to radio each other and see each other in the screens, Cohen explains. Petitpren says the department uses the simulator to preplan for snowfall and to improve coordination. "We see this as a way to improve safety and performance and standardize behavior in job skills," he states.

Petitpren also uses the simulator for practicing inspections. "We will put debris out there or lights out so they can get better at observing," he says.

At the Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Ontario, Canada, drivers are required to have 10 hours of training. Spence Gludish, manager, airside safety operations for the Greater Toronto Airport Authority, found that the initial training with the simulator could be reduced to four hours.

Gludish's biggest concern, he says, is incursions. "This is going to set a uniform standard with everyone we put out there. With the simulator, the people will all be a known commodity before the go out and do their practical test," he says.

Most airports train new drivers for a few weeks, Cohen says. "We can set up scenarios where we grade these students in the situation with the aircraft noise and the control tower in the cab," he says.

The software also grades drivers on their maneuvers and supplies management with a printout of the session. Scenarios can be stopped so trainers can point out mistakes, Cohen says, and the simulations are taped so trainers can review sessions with the students.

In its current contracts, FAAC includes an airport's future expansion plans so that training can continue and be accurate during construction processes. For example, Toronto is undergoing a large construction project, Gludish says. "We can program the changes into the software and train the people prior to the changes occurring so we can keep ahead of the changes as we go along."

For information about FAAC's Driver Training System, contact Jerry Cohen at the North Palm Beach, FL, office at (561) 691-9979.

Interactive Information to Bring Revenues
Dotronix has developed a solution to not only provide interactive information to passengers, but bring airports revenues as well.

The Interactive Information Kiosk provides passengers with information in multiple languages about restaurants, shopping, events, hotels, ground transportation, and flight and gate information in an airport.

The kiosk also has the ability to connect to the Internet. One version has a small camera in it that takes a passenger's snapshot to be sent on a e-postcard. Another feature of the kiosk is its mobile phone interface, which will ring a passenger's phone as a reminder to be at the gate.