October 11, 2012
By Benet J. Wilson
It’s been a busy week for San Marcos, Texas-based simulator provider Redbird Flight Simulations Inc., with the company naming a new board member and signing on two new partners.
Redbird has named Jack Pelton, the former chairman and CEO of Cessna Aircraft Co., to its board. “We’re thrilled to welcome Jack to the Board of Directors,” said Redbird Chairman Jerry Gregoire. “Having a board member with Jack’s business acumen and experience is valuable beyond measure. Redbird is grateful for his commitment to aviation.”
Pelton’s career reads like a who’s who in aviation, including holding key roles at Cessna, Dornier Aircraft, and Douglas Aircraft; serving on the FAA’s Management Advisory Committee; and serving on the boards of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum and Corporate Angel Network.
In other news, Redbird Skyport will now partner with ForeFlight, with the latter recording students, instructors, and participating pilots flying simulators and real aircraft at the Redbird Skyport in San Marcos. ForeFlight’s data is expected to offer insights to drive app development based on observed pilot needs. New features and hardware can then be tested in the same environment for immediate feedback.
“We created the Skyport as an open laboratory for everybody to use,” said Gregoire.
The two companies will also partner on a broader plan that will integrate ForeFlight into pilot training and Redbird’s Migration curriculum, a simulation-centric flight training program now in use in the Skyport’s Part 141 flight school.
Finally, Redbird Media will partner with Redbird Flight Simulations and other groups to work on ways to truly integrate simulation into flight training. “The core issue is that most pilots and instructors see simulation as an adjunct to flight training and proficiency,” said Jeff Van West, director of the new organization Redbird Media. “We need to shift people’s concept of simulation such that it becomes a central part of a pilot lifestyle. To reap the benefits, using simulation must become a habit.”
Programs for pilots under the partnership will range from public events, such as virtual fly-ins and spot-landing contests, to engaging monthly proficiency programs tailored to individual needs. “Get pilots in the habit of coming to the airport for an exciting monthly sim session and they’re more likely to stay in the habit of real-world flying because they’re more comfortable, more proficient and simply at the airport more often,” said Van West.
And finally, Redbird’s Skyport laboratory will share data from a one-year, two-part mission to study the impact and feasibility of fixed-cost, fixed-schedule primary flight training methodologies based largely on simulation. It will share its preliminary findings at the Migration Flight Training Industry and Design Conference from Oct. 22 through 24 in San Marcos. Speakers include Gregoire, Pelton, AOPA President Craig Fuller, and Pete Bunce, president and CEO of the General Aviation Manufactures Association.
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