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What’s it like to fly Boeing’s new jetliner? Pilots will soon find out in Miami simulator

The pilot’s view in the cockpit of a 737 MAX full-flight simulator on hold in a midair flight over Moses Lake, Washington, on Thursday, May 5, 2017 at Boeing’s Miami Campus. Delivery of the first of the new aircraft is due to begin in June. Meantime, FAA and European inspectors were flying the simulator as part of the certification process.
The pilot’s view in the cockpit of a 737 MAX full-flight simulator on hold in a midair flight over Moses Lake, Washington, on Thursday, May 5, 2017 at Boeing’s Miami Campus. Delivery of the first of the new aircraft is due to begin in June. Meantime, FAA and European inspectors were flying the simulator as part of the certification process. crosenberg@miamiherald.com

When U.S. pilots start flying into Miami soon for training on Boeing’s new jetliner, they’ll get a full-body experience.

A 737 MAX simulator shown to media and airline representatives on Thursday offers an opportunity to sit in an exact replica of a cockpit of the new aircraft — to be delivered to the first airline customers in June — for training before delivery. From the cockpit, trainees see video reproductions that let them practice taking off, landing and flying, and experience the tilt, turbulence and climb of an actual aircraft.

On Thursday, Miami’s Boeing Campus training site gave airline representatives and reporters a look at its new simulation suites and full-flight simulator, a pod-like unit containing the cockpit. It is Boeing’s only U.S. site where pilots can train on the new aircraft. Delivery to airlines begins in June.

The media day visit also showed the 16-student classroom where mechanics are training specifically on the new aircraft, distinguishable from other 737s by its split-tipped winglet. Seattle-based Jayson Remfert, Boeing’s maintenance training product manager, said the program teaches already seasoned airline mechanics how to maintain and monitor a 737 MAX, even before they get hands-on experience with the real thing.

Miami is the first campus to offer “MAX training” for the plane, also called the 737-8, said Martin Schaaf, campus manager. Boeing will later set up simulation classes in Singapore, Gatwick and Shanghai to train pilots for the 3,700-plus MAX aircraft already ordered by 87 airlines around the world.

Miami is the first to have the 737 MAX classroom, Schaaf said, because “it’s a great aviation community” with proximity to “many of our customers.”

More than a dozen airlines have already signed up to do their 737 MAX training in Miami, Schaaf said, including Aer Lingus, Air Mexico, American, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, COPA and Southwest. Some of them also toured the training sites on Thursday.

The MAX version caused a mini-stir earlier this week when CNN disclosed American Airlines’ plan to shrink the legroom in economy class in the new model.

Simulation has come a long way since pilots underwent rote memorization and learning from manuals with classroom lectures, said Seattle-based Scott Anderson of the 737 MAX training development team, as he demonstrated Miami’s simulation suite capable of teaching four pilots at a time.

Today, they learn with hands-on training. Rather than sit at a desk, the pilots sit side by side at a flat-panel, interactive flight deck computerized cockpit before graduating to a full-flight simulators. Today’s generation “don’t want to read about it. They want to do it,” Anderson said. “The students of the future, they’re not afraid of technology.”

Boeing Simulation classroom
Old school overlaps with new school at a 737 MAX simulation training room at Boeing’s Miami Campus, where the aircraft manufacturer unveiled its training suites for the new 737 due to begin service in June with delivery of the first of 3,700 aircraft to some 87 airlines. CAROL ROSENBERG crosenberg@miamiherald.com

Thursday, the campus team showed the 737 MAX full cockpit simulator. Its computerized program was frozen in flight over foggy Washington state during a break in checks by inspectors from the FAA and European aviation agencies.

Boeing has about 1,600 employees in Florida, with 100 of those at the Miami training center. Others are at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and in Jacksonville, where the firm supports Navy P-8 training.

Carol Rosenberg: 305-376-3179, @carolrosenberg

Boeing’s 737 MAX promotional video

Flight Training 3
Models pose as students at the 737MAX 3D flight deck simulator in Miami in a Boeing handout photo. Courtesy Boeing

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