In most regards, I’ve been lucky during the Covid Curse. Both Tim & I have been. We’re healthy so far, have not been impacted by unemployment, and have plenty of options for entertainment. Plus, we see a few close friends regularly so don’t feel completely isolated. It *IS* some increase in risk to visit with friends.
Coronavirus has hit me super hard in one area.
Last year after the Boeing Max accidents it became likely that we would be getting training on iPads. “Uh oh” I thought.
Our non-simulator training is now mostly delivered on an iPad. And it’s pretty good, BUT… in spite of the iPad’s enormous computing power, all airline training is little more than minimally interactive slide-shows and videos. It has continually gotten better, but the max accidents expose how pilots need to practice RESPONDING to situations. Situations that involve sights and sounds. They heard a trim runway AND a stick shaker. How can you prepare for that?
The Switch Flipped
At some point in thinking about this problem a switch flipped. It was much like how I ended up doing the PPG bible in 2003. A similar switch flipped after a number of preventable accidents and getting tired of hearing some entrenched misinformation. After asking Dennis Pagen to write it, he said no, but if YOU write it, I’ll publish it.
When that switch flips I have a hard time ignoring the circuit.
So Tim and I decided to take a plunge like no other, starting a business to do nothing short of revolutionizing how airline pilots use their iPads for training.
It’s a full-on simulator that lets pilots practice their alrine’s specific reactions to emergency situations. Practice. That’s key. Not watching videos, but PRACTICING in real time by responding to the sights and sounds they would experience in the airplane. I figured out a lot of how to do the programming by writing version 2 of Rob’s “Virtual Footflyer” flight code. The ppg simulator looks funny given that it uses Boeing instrumentation, but boy does it fly better.
We planned to hire a programmer, and after going through some serious incompetence, we landed on a fellow who is very talented and ended up hiring him.
With a working product in January, 2020, sales efforts started in earnest, including interest from a top airline after the demo went very well. They wanted more, to be able to justify the expense, and we went to work on that, with the plan to debut the product later. It was at that demo when they asked if we would be at the world’s largest expo for airline training products and airline top brass.
So we set out to debut at WATS 2020 which also happened to be only 35 minutes from home. Our booth was paid for and we were days away from pulling the trigger on $2000 worth of display gear when things started cancelling from Covid. The walls came crumbling down. By the time April showed up, airline traffic had cratered and no airline was interested in buying anything. And training software? For new pilots? Yeah, not a thing anymore, at least for a couple years. Of course there’s re-current, and the idea of avoiding “undesirable aircraft states” is still a factor, but airlines are on life support so it’s just not a priority.
We’re not giving up, though, and are trying other avenues. Namely, we’ve qualified to sell to the DoD and other government agencies so we’re going down that road. They have an immense amount to gain through this capability, possibly even more than the airlines because of the diverse reactions they must master. Airline pilots don’t get shot at as often (they do, but it’s very rare).
Pain of Passion
It has engulfed my life. It was in this context that PPG Bible 6 had to be finished so you can imagine why I’ve felt so consumed lately. There is no sign of letting up, but I still make escapes, I still plan to visit my parents, to fly, spend time with my people, mostly Tim, and keep plowing on, in a passionate ply for a safer sky.