With a bit of help and guidance from seasoned pilot, Garry Stewart, Sault Ste. Marie MPP and Ontario Minister of Natural Resources, David Orazietti, flew a CL-415 water bomber to a small remote forest fire.
Okay, it wasn't a real CL-415 aircraft, nor was it a real forest fire.
But it was a mighty realistic simulation, complete with the sights, sounds, and motions MNR pilots experience day in and day out.
Officially launched today at the MNR Flight Training Centre, the new flight simulator will allow pilots to train in Sault Ste. Marie, saving the province an estimated $250,000 per year.
Training was previously conducted using ministry-owned planes or at a flight simulation facility in Quebec.
"I'm very pleased to be here today to celebrate with you a huge accomplishment for the Province of Ontario," said Orazietti during his address. "This is very important equipment that has been put in place in Sault Ste. Marie. I couldn't think of a better place to have it and we're all going to be the better for it."
Built by Mechtronix and certified by Transport Canada, time used in the new flight simulator can be logged by pilots as official flight training.
Although the local simulator is not a first for Mechtronix, Vito Longo, senior director of operations, told SooToday.com it is the company's first 'level 6 device', meaning it fully replicates the characteristics of flying and handling a CL-415 water bomber.
"The main challenge [designing this simulator] is that most environments the pilots find themselves in are abnormal or emergency situations," Longo explained. "There's very little data in that respect. In terms of the handling qualities and aerodynamics of the aircraft, we ran a flight test program to gather that information. But when it comes to simulating flying in a forested area with fires and turbulence, we took a lot of information from actual pilots in the field."
Garry Stewart, chief pilot of fixed-wing aircraft for the Ministry of Natural Resources, told us the simulator's cockpit is a 100 percent replica of an actual CL-415, while the flying simulation is about 90 percent realistic.
"One of the reasons this simulator includes the water bombing enhancement is so we can train new pilots who have never water bombed a fire," Stewart told us. "They may be experienced pilots - airline or charter pilots with thousands of hours - but they've never water bombed a fire before. This gives them a good introduction to the process. After four or five hours of water bombing simulations, they can go out to a fire and be conditioned."
The flight simulator's visuals replicate the surrounding area and includes five photo-specific airports - Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Timmins, Dryden and Thunder Bay.
Pilots can battle five different degrees of fire severity, and several lakes representing areas north of Sudbury are replicated in the simulator.
It can also simulate specific locations and landscapes from across the country, including British Columbia.
"The work that these pilots do in putting themselves in harm's way to protect the people, property and our natural resources is vital to our responsibility as a ministry, and as a government," Orazietti said. "It's our responsibility to makes sure that those people who are working in this field have the resources and have the best support available for them. Only then can we be confident that people have the training and skills that they need to safely do their jobs."
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News releases issued today by the offices of the Ministry of Natural Resources and David Orazietti follow.
Training pilots for forest fire season
Ontario opens innovative flight training centre
Ontario is opening an innovative flight training centre for water bomber pilots in Sault Ste. Marie.
The 622-square-metre facility is the first of its kind in Ontario.
It is equipped with one of the most advanced flight training devices available, which simulates the sights, sounds and motions of the CL-415 water bomber aircraft used to fight forest fires in Ontario.
By eliminating the need to send pilots out of the province for training, the centre will provide a long-term, cost-effective solution for managing forest fires.
It will also attract pilots from other areas to train and practise, helping to support the local economy.
Investing in public safety and forest firefighting infrastructure is part of the Ontario government's plan to support local economies and keep families and communities safe.
“This new flight simulator and training centre in Sault Ste. Marie is the first of its kind in the province. It will help to strengthen our firefighting program by ensuring that our highly skilled water bomber pilots and air engineers have the support they need to play a key role in keeping Ontarians safe from the threat of forest fires.” - David Orazietti, Minister of Natural Resources
Ontario managed over 1,619 forest fires in 2012.
The government has been operating nine CL-415 water bombers since 1998.
The construction of the facility created 14 construction jobs in Sault Ste. Marie.
The forest firefighting program has $25 million of fire suppression equipment, 14 water bombers, 13 helicopters and 12 fire detection aircraft.
See the CL-415 water bombers in action.
Read about the history of the CL-415.
Learn more about Ontario’s aviation services.
Learn about forest fires in Ontario.
Find out more about preventing fires at ontario.ca/fireprevention.
Orazietti unveils state-of-the-art flight training centre in Sault Ste. Marie
Ontario government invests $8.5 million in forest fire pilot training
SAULT STE. MARIE - The provincial government has invested $8.5 million in a new state-of-the-art flight training centre for water bomber pilots in Sault Ste. Marie, David Orazietti MPP announced today.
“Our government has invested in a new flight simulator and training centre which is the first of its kind in the province,” said David Orazietti, MPP and Minister of Natural Resources. “This new centre will help to strengthen our fire fighting program by ensuring that our highly-skilled water bomber pilots and air engineers have the support they need to play a key role in keeping Ontarians safe from the threat of forest fires.”
The 6,700-square-foot (622-square-metre) facility, which is equipped with one of the most advanced flight training devices available, was officially opened today.
It simulates the sights, sounds and motions of the CL-415 water bomber aircraft used to fight forest fires in the province.
Rather than sending pilots out-of-province for training, pilots can now practice dangerous situations such as flying in severe weather conditions and instrument failures here in Sault Ste. Marie.
The centre will also provide a boost to the local economy by attracting pilots from other provinces who will be able to train and improve their skills.
The Ontario government is committed to our communities and our economy.
Investing in public safety and infrastructure through the development of this flight training centre helps keep the province’s forest fire fighting program strong and our families and communities protected.