Thermal, California – October 24, 2023: Coulson Aviation, a world leader in aerial firefighting, has significantly increased its training capabilities via the procurement of two Level D full flight simulators – the world’s only CH-47D simulator and one of two existing UH-60A and L simulators – from CAE in Arlington, Texas. The simulators, which are night vision goggle (NVG) compatible and currently undergoing significant upgrades, will be located in a new simulator facility at Coulson’s Thermal, California base.
“As the only company conducting NVG firefighting operations with large aircraft, training and currency is paramount to Coulson,” said Mel Ceccanti, Director of Flight Operations-Rotorcraft at Coulson Aviation. “We have an extensive training program for initial pilot hires and for annual pilot recurrency that are twice as intensive as anyone else in the industry. These NVG compliant simulators further strengthen that program, greatly expanding our rotorcraft training and assuring our flight crews meet the highest standards.”
The simulators are currently completing extensive upgrades before beginning service, including a state-of-the-art high fidelity image generator and projection system, upgraded avionics packages, new operating systems, and new databases.
“The CH-47 sim allows us to simulate 490 aircraft system failures while the Black Hawk simulator can simulate over 561 failures,” Ceccanti said. “We can run our pilots through the gauntlet without the expense, wear, and risk of training in the helicopter. The simulators are extremely realistic – the cockpit, seats, and flag controls are identical to what we have in our aircraft, to the point that the whole simulator shakes as you’re flying along like a real helicopter. It’s a very realistic experience, which will be more so after our high fidelity upgrades.”
Coulson’s initial pilot training averages 28 days with up to five of them in the simulator. Every pilot also undertakes intensive annual recurrency training using the sims. By procuring the simulators and upgrading them, the company can customize simulator training to the wildfire fighting environment and save considerable money down the road, Ceccanti said.
Coulson hired an experienced CAE technician to disassemble the simulators, oversee their transportation to Thermal, update them, apply for FAA certification, and then run them when they are fully operational.
The newly upgraded simulators are currently in Thermal and are expected to enter service in 2024. They will also be available for contract to outside companies seeking to provide valuable and economic Level D simulator training in the two helicopter models.
About Coulson Aviation
Throughout the company’s 60+ years, the mission has remained the same: to protect the world from forest fires. Our organizational capabilities allow our team to provide simultaneous aerial support across numerous continents. As a leading supplier to county, state, and federal governments worldwide, Coulson has focused its next generation multi-mission fleet on sustainable, in-production aircraft. Working in partnership with OEMs and leveraging the latest technology allows Coulson to provide superior all-hazard response aircraft. Learn more by visiting us online at: coulsonaviation.com.