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Alaska Invests in Technology to Attract and Retain World-class Pilots

Our Bureau - : Mar 17, 2023 - : 2:29 am

Alaska Airlines is partnering with VRPilot, a Danish technology company, as part of its plan to attract pilots by investing in technology.

The airline has worked with VRPilot to virtually reconstruct its 737 flight deck as a training aid for pilots who are new to the aircraft. One of the first things pilots learn is the layout of the flight deck and the purpose of every switch and button. Offering new pilots an opportunity to put themselves “inside” the flight deck where they may need to crane their neck or lean to reach a switch is a much more realistic teaching tool than photographs in a book or video tutorials.

“It’s like your alarm clock in the morning – you know exactly where the snooze button is,” said Alaska First Officer Scott Wathey, a newly hired pilot. “This technology helps the muscle memory to know exactly where that switch is.”

According to the airline., VR will augment existing traditional training techniques and result in better-prepared pilots, higher success rates through training and more time for complex instructor-led training activities.

Horizon Air, Alaska’s wholly owned regional partner, will also soon be using the same technology with its regional pilots. This technology also provides an opportunity to use virtual reality in maintenance and engineering, ground service and our flight attendants.

The airline has ordered 2 new fixed-base simulators and 3 new full motion simulators, bringing the total number of fixed-base and full motion simulators to 18. The training devices are being installed currently and will be operational by the end of 2024.

Horizon Air has ordered an additional simulator to train pilots on the now single fleet of Embraer E-175 aircraft. This will give Horizon two owned simulators and priority access to a third in Seattle.


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