Pan Am’s SimCom Focuses on Business Aviation Training

 - April 16, 2008, 10:31 AM

With the opening of its new 67,000-sq-ft training center in Orlando, Fla. last October, Pan Am International Flight Academy underscored its intention to further expand into the business of simulator training for business aviation.

The academy has long been associated primarily with airline pilot simulator training, in part by virtue of its launch in 1980 by the late Pan American World Airways. The company survived bankruptcy in 1991, was purchased by investment firm J.W. Childs Associates of Boston in 1998, and in January 1999 bought SimCom. Shortly after the acquisition of SimCom, Pan Am management decided to integrate business aviation simulator training under the SimCom general aviation umbrella and to expand that aspect of the business.

The strategy has been successful, said Pan Am president and CEO Wally David. He told AIN that the business of business aviation has been “very active” since the opening of the larger SimCom facility in Orlando, despite the recession and the business aviation slump that followed September 11.

This year SimCom expects to train some 2,400 business aviation pilots, up about 20 percent from last year. In addition, the company has in recent months opened a new King Air 350 level-5 flight-training device (FTD) in Orlando with visual system and a full avionics suite, including Collins EFIS, Collins radios, a GNS-XLS flight management system and KLN 90B GPS. The FMS includes a Jeppesen database with all North American navaids and airports.

SimCom also has a second Pilatus PC-12 Series 9 simulator in Orlando, in addition to the PC-12 Series 10 simulator co-located at Pilatus headquarters in Broomfield, Colo.
Last month SimCom introduced a new Hawker 800A level-C simulator at its Orlando training center. The six-axis simulator was developed by SimCom Simulation Technologies and is equipped with a Honeywell electronic flight instrumentation system (EFIS).

The new Hawker simulator joins level-C approved Learjet and Citation simulators at the Orlando facility. “Our business jet training programs combine advanced simulation technology with the latest computer animation,” said Tracy Brannon, managing director for SimCom training centers. And he added, “Type rating and recurrent training programs are Part 135, Part 142 and insurance industry approved.”

At its Orlando and Scottsdale, Ariz., and Broomfield, Colo. sites, SimCom offers a growing business aircraft simulator training program, including Hawker 700, 800 and 800XP; Learjet 23, 30 and 55; Citation I, II and V; King Air 90B, 200, 300 and 350; Mitsubishi MU-2; Pilatus PC-12; and Socata TBM 700.

David said about 60 percent of the current crop of trainees are owner-pilots. “But with the addition of simulators for larger business aircraft, such as the Hawker 800, that will change,” he said.

The Orlando SimCom facility was built specifically with business aviation in mind, and the 67,000 sq ft of space has adequate room for expansion. It currently houses five full-motion business jet simulators and 15 visual-only training devices. There are also 24 sound-insulated classrooms equipped with overhead LCD projectors and computer-based instruction workstations.

“We will continue to respond to the business aviation training market with new simulators as they are needed,” said Brannon, noting that the additional simulators and training devices have all been installed in response to customer demand.