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NEWS | Feb. 1, 2024

Pilot training innovation: First successful remote simulator training

By Benjamin Faske 19th Air Force Public Affairs

The first successful remote simulator instruction in Air Force pilot training connected 2nd Lt. Wesley Mills, a 47th Student Squadron student pilot at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, with Robert Wayne, 12th Training Squadron simulator instructor at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Jan. 22, 2024.

Wayne, while sitting at a computer at JBSA-Randolph, directed Mills, who was seated in a T-6 Texan II simulator at Laughlin Air Force Base. Three cameras affixed to the trainer simulator filmed the student’s every input while the sim instructor gave real-time feedback over the headset.

"The training felt very similar to how it normally does when you’re in the instrumented flight trainer," Mills said. "In person, you don’t see the instructor because he’s behind you for the duration of your flight, and you’re talking to him over the headset. The biggest difference for a remote simulator is the familiarity with the surrounding airspace. Thankfully, Mr. Wayne was familiar with Laughlin’s airspace, and it felt like he was in the room with me.”

The simulated training sortie began with a Microsoft Teams pre-brief utilizing screen share and PowerPoint presentations. The flying profile included basic instrument maneuvers in the area, followed by multiple straight-ins and instrument landing system approaches that were all completed without issue.

“Remote simulator instruction could positively impact the onsite civilian simulator instructor shortfall across all UPT locations,” said Lt. Col. Robert Buckley, 19th Air Force chief of curriculum. “Connecting aircrew training devices via remote locations provides flexible options to deliver instruction for syllabus-directed simulator events.”

Remote instruction programs will provide relief to active-duty instructor pilots, allowing them to focus on flying duties plus cost savings in temporary duty expenses.

“The success of the remote simulator instruction marks a significant step forward in the use of technology to refine pilot training,” Buckley said. “This approach is expected to continue through the summer of 2024, with the goal of gathering more data to support a decision on scaling the program across the flying training enterprise.