SimCom CEO Wally David is optimistic about growth prospects for his Orlando, Fla.-based aircraft simulator training company, even though he concedes that business has been flat over the past year. “We haven’t seen much pickup in our side of the market, which includes light and midsize jet training, as well as for pistons and turboprops,” he said. “This is because of a general lack of confidence in the economy and the many unknowns, the largest of which is the uncertainty over the U.S. elections.”
While there has been some trend toward taking less training as a way to save money during the down economy, David believes that doing this will actually cost operators more in the end. “Training is an important aspect of operating an aircraft,” he pointed out. “Are you prepared when something bad happens? If not, the consequences could be severe,” potentially including loss of life.
To give operators more incentive to continue training during these lean times, SimCom strives to offer the most value for the dollar. This includes a customized approach to meet a client’s specific needs, as well as small class sizes (maximum of two) and the same instructor for both classroom and simulator to provide more continuity to the training experience.
In addition, SimCom started scenario-based training earlier this year to prepare pilots more effectively for real-life situations. “We compiled NTSB accident reports for each of our training programs,” said SimCom COO Tracy Brannon. “Then we created an accident synopsis database that our instructors can access to identify accident trends. From there, the instructors were asked to select two to three of the highest-incidence accident scenarios for use in training.” Customers can also even ask for their own scenarios, he added.
SimCom is using its accident analysis tool for presentations to aircraft owner groups. In fact, at the recent Eclipse 500 owners club meeting, Tracy gave a presentation on why very light jets crash. “The NTSB data point to approach and landing accidents, so I tailored the presentation to highlight these mishaps.”
According to Tracy, customers enjoy SimCom’s scenario-based training. “They tell us it’s refreshing to do training a bit differently,” he noted. “Until now, the instructor and customer knew beforehand what was going to happen in the simulator. Now, it’s more open-ended–the student must decide how to deal with an abnormal/emergency condition that actually happened to someone in real life and ended with an undesirable outcome. Good aeronautical decision-making skills require continuous use and practice.”