Southwest Airlines Opens State-Of-The-Art Flight Operations Training Facility

Southwest Airlines' new $10 million flight operations training center opened today with fanfare and a visit from the carrier's Chairman, President, and CEO Herb Kelleher.

The new 110,000-square-foot facility is the key element of Southwest's flight training services for its more than 2,600 pilots.

"This state-of-the-art training center makes Southwest well-equipped to handle the flight operations training needs of the airline well into the next century," said Paul Sterbenz, Southwest's vice president of flight operations. "Research for this facility was gleaned from visiting training centers all over the world, and the best ideas are incorporated into this gem of a building."

The training center houses five flight simulators, cockpit trainers, and a host of classrooms where, on average, Southwest pilots will spend about 1,000 hours training during their careers. The center also features one of only two Boeing 737-700 simulators currently installed in the world, and it is the only -700 simulator equipped with the Head Up Guidance System.

Other simulators installed in the building are one Boeing 737-200 and three Boeing 737-300s. The simulators weigh between 10,000 and 27,000 pounds, and the foundations for each of the training machines extends 90 feet below the ground.

Input from the training center staff also was considered in the building's design. As a result, the center's final layout offers a practical, user-friendly work environment that organizes all classroom, cockpit, and simulator training on one floor and all administrative and technical operations on another. The center also is poised for growth: a sixth simulator can be added to the current building, a third floor can be added to the current two-story facility, and the center's lot has the capacity for two more flight training buildings (each with six simulators) the same size as the current new facility.

On an average day, the flight operations training center will have more than 80 pilots in the classrooms and simulators, and instructors will log 70 hours with pilots training in the five simulators.

The facility is located adjacent to Southwest's headquarters building in Dallas and offices 51 Employees, including flight instructors, simulator technicians, and support staff. When the center is fully occupied, nearly 300 pilots can be in training at one time.

Southwest Airlines has been named a charter member of the International Airline Passengers Association's Honor Roll of Airlines among the World's Safest Airlines. Southwest also has been recognized as one of the world's safest airlines by Conde Nast Traveler, a national magazine that specializes in information for business and leisure travelers.

Southwest Airlines Flight Operations Training Center

The center is a state-of-the-art facility built to meet Southwest's training needs well into the 21st Century. It is the only training center in the world with only 737 simulators. The center's design comes from researching other training facilities all over the world as well as from input from the training center's staff.  A unique feature of the training center is its mass storage and distribution system for hydraulic oil for the simulators. The new system drastically reduces environmental damage from potential oil spills.

VITAL STATISTICS:  
Grand opening date: April 6, 1998
Cost: $10 million
Square footage: 110,000 square feet
Employees: 51, including 23 instructors, 15 technicians, and 13 support staff.  
   
CLASSROOMS:


The center is equipped with eight classrooms, each with closed circuit television, computer and training systems, and conventional audio/visual equipment.
   
SIMULATORS:



The simulator bay at the flight operations training center was built to hold six simulators. Currently there are five housed there: the 737-200; three 737-300s; and one 737-700. There is room to add a sixth simulator as the airline’s training needs expand.
   
Simulator One:


The Boeing 737-200 simulator was introduced in January 1987 and cost $1.2 million. It was manufactured by Link as a Boeing 707 simulator for American Airlines and later modified to a Boeing 737.
   
Simulator Two:

The Boeing 737-300 simulator was introduced in January 1994 and cost $7.4 million. It was manufactured by Reflectone.
   
Simulator Three:

The Boeing 737-300 simulator was introduced in August 1997 and cost $2.9 million. It was manufactured by Rediffusion.
   
Simulator Four:

The Boeing 737-300 simulator was introduced in October 1986 and cost $8.2 million. It was manufactured by Rediffusion.
   
Simulator Five:



Southwest’s newest simulator, the Boeing 737-700, arrived in December 1997 and cost $10.8 million. It was manufactured by Thomson. It is the latest technology available in a simulator training environment.
   
The simulator features:









  • Head Up Guidance Display equipment
  • Electric Control Loading versus hydraulics
  • State-of-the-art instructor station
  • Top of the line visual display system
  • High reliance on actual aircraft instrumentation
  • Digital capture of audio/video of crew activity for instantaneous playback and review
  • Aircraft sounds from actual aircraft recordings
  • Weather radar and air traffic coordinated with visual scenes
TRAINING:







On an average day, the flight operations training center will have more than 80 pilots in the classrooms and simulators, and instructors will log about 70 hours with pilots training in the five simulators.

Southwest’s training center is responsible for training up to 250 new-hire pilots each year. The center will conduct check rides and recurrent training for a pilot population of more than 2,600.

   
PEOPLE STATISTICS:

Currently, Southwest has 2,676 pilots. SWA projects to hire 2,007 additional pilots through year 2006 for growth and attrition.

((Editor's Note: Southwest has video footage of the facility and its simulators in motion; pilots in training; and an interview with the airline's director of flight standards and training. The video footage is available for download via satellite on Monday, April 6. Feed time: 1-1:30 p.m. Eastern time; Noon to 12:30 p.m. Central time; 11-11:30 a.m. Mountain time; and 10-10:30 a.m. Pacific time. Coordinates are: C-Band: Galaxy 9/Transponder 1/Audio 6.2 & 6.8. Beta SP hard copies also are available for overnight delivery by calling (214) 792-5138.))

((Editor's Note: A photo of the airline's newest simulator, the Boeing 737-700, is available to news media without charge via NewsCom, http://www.newscom.com/ or by calling (305) 448-1236.))

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(214) 792-4847
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en Espanol (800) 221-0016

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