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Conair’s multi-group simulators first to be certified for aerial firefighting

Conair Aerial Firefighting Press Release | March 8, 2024

Estimated reading time 5 minutes, 31 seconds.

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Conair Group’s six flight training devices (FTDs) in its Mission Training System (MTS) platform are now certified to Level 4 by Transport Canada. The six FTDs are federated devices which allow aerial firefighting pilots the ability to train over the same wildfire at the same time, practicing in coordination to produce more effective, and safer, missions.

“This certification is incredibly important as it means the MTS is the first training system of its kind in the world to be certified for aerial firefighting,” said Scott Stewart, manager, Flight Standards with Conair.

“Our pilots can now gain credit for training in the MTS, reducing the total time required in the actual aircraft. Not only can we train our pilots more effectively, in multi group simulator sessions, we can train them more efficiently, giving them significantly more experience over fires to prepare for real-world operations from within the safe confines of a simulator platform. Additional specific approvals, including low visibility and night training, allow us to train crews for the challenges of aerial firefighting in a much more realistic and meaningful manner.”

The Level 4 certification has been granted for the Dash 8-400AT, RJ85, Cessna 208B, TC690, and two AT802, wheeled/floats, FTDs.

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“The aerial response to wildfires is complex. Often there are multiple aircraft over a fire, challenged by smoke, turbulence, terrain, and heat. Training together in an environment that mimics real life, including complex radio communications, is beneficial for our crews,” said Mark Baird, Large Airtanker Fleet manager.

“It means when they step into the field on deployment day, they are ready to execute. We can offer hours of additional training to our pilots, plus we can practice manoeuvres and emergency exercises in a safe environment, something you can’t practice during on-wing training. And we can use the simulators to qualify more pilots faster, keeping up with the rising demand.”

“This spring we are training Conair pilots, plus Aero-Flite crew, our US subsidiary company, and we are welcoming our first third party customer,” said Scott. “Another benefit to the MTS is our ability to partner with our government agency customers, helping to train Air Attack Officers who strategize the

aerial response and coordinate tactics over the fire. The ability to train and practice before a fire season starts offers incredible benefits. Ground school is put into practice before the first challenging wildfire of the season emerges. Such highly realistic training helps ensure aerial firefighters are current and ready to respond effectively the moment there is a need.”

First envisioned in 2017, the MTS is the only one in the world of its kind and made possible using Conair’s experience in aerial firefighting. In 2021 Conair completed the MTS as proof of concept, linking three FTDs locally. Conair leveraged lessons learned from the platform and launched an expanded MTS program in 2022, incorporating two large airtankers (Dash 8-400AT and RJ85) with a TC690 bird dog. Building off that success, the final three FTDs were installed in 2023.

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The platform offers extremely high-resolution graphics with a 200 degree by 45-degree field of view. Pilots are able to see and hear each other during the simulation, with fire behavior reacting to drops, taking into account humidity, weather, fuel type, and terrain, producing visually accurate representations, including smoke.

The MTS within Conair’s Training + Tactic Centre is currently available for pilots at Conair and Aero-Flite, in addition to partner government wildfire management staff. There are plans to expand the program globally in the future.

This press release was prepared and distributed by Conair Aerial Firefighting.

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