Hawaiian Airlines is prepping its pilots for a fleet of new planes with a state-of-the-art flight simulator that includes realistic 3-D images and every flight scenario imaginable.
The new, $10 million Airbus A321neo Full Flight Simulator is located deep in the airline's Honolulu training facility. It's an exact copy of the cockpit of Hawaiian's new A-321neo aircraft, and the next best thing to flying a real one.
The carrier is getting 18 of the Airbus planes starting next year.
"It couldn't be more realistic ... as you see outside now we're approaching the Pearl Harbor Channel headed for Honolulu." said Capt. Ken Rewick, vice president for flight operations.
"They take three large cameras on top of the simulator and depict a visual that you see on a Mylar screen which sits 3 or 4 feet in front of the cockpit windows and its stunning."
Richard Willoughby, project manager for Hawaiian's flight standards and qualifications, said pilots spend up to four hours at a time at the controls of the simulator.
Simulators run from day landings in Honolulu, to touching down in San Francisco to an evening arrival in Las Vegas.
"Part way through your simulator period you'll forget you're not in a real airplane -- that's how real it gets," Willoughby said.
Flight simulation has come a long way for Hawaiian. In the 1940s, they relied on a simulator that was more akin to a child's carnival ride.
Rewick said with today's simulator, anything's possible.
"We can duplicate snow in Honolulu if you'd prefer ... for simulation in Beijing and JFK we simulate snow and ice," Rewick said.
Hawaiian pilots will start training in the new simulator next month.