March 29, 2012
By Ian J. Twombly
A document faked to look like an FAA advisory circular sent to Redbird Flight Simulation customers, and possibly others, says that customers must be aware of software licensing agreements and that their simulator may not be valid as a result. In response to the document, Redbird Chairman Jerry Gregoire sent a scathing letter to customers that accuses employees or representatives of Precision Flight Controls of being the source of the document.
Gregoire, who said he was embarrassed for the industry and sent the response to help calm customers, wrote in the letter that, “This latest ‘dirty trick’ is just one in a long line produced over the last few years by an employee or employees of Precision Flight Controls, one of our competitors located in Sacramento, California. We are deeply disappointed by the constant harassment we've received at the hands of these individuals and it is our hope that the owners and managers of Precision Flight Controls will address this issue without delay. We can only imagine what PFC might have brought to the marketplace had they put this much time and effort into improving their products.”
Precision Flight Controls CEO and President Mike Altman denied the accusation. “This is a disturbing, slanderous and unwarranted email by Jerry Gregoire. As far as we are concerned this notice may have come from a disgruntled customer or a Redbird employee. All in all, Jerry’s comments are quite honestly, insulting.”
Although the fake advisory circular doesn’t mention any specific companies, it repeats claims made by websites that say Redbird’s software isn’t valid. The document says in part, “Your simulator may not be in regulatory compliance,” and advises those who received it to contact the FAA and Microsoft’s legal office.
In his letter to customers, Gregoire sought to calm any fears about Redbird’s software. “The intent of the letter was to frighten our customers into thinking that their Redbird Simulator was not certified properly and was in danger of losing its certification. You have my solemn promise that nothing could be further from the truth. As a matter of fact, we’ve just received another group of certifications for our FMX, TD, and LD model simulators from the FAA today.”
AOPA Pilot and Flight Training Editor Ian J. Twombly joined AOPA in 2003 and is an instrument flight instructor.
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