Regular readers of this blog might already be aware that Thai Airways is currently adding new Airbus A380s to its fleet (for more details about Thai’s new A380s check my reports from Airbus’ Delivery Center and from the Airbus' Aircraft Design and Mock-Up Center in Toulouse, or check this video).
These new A380s are adding capacity to some of Thai’s most popular routes, such as Bangkok to Tokyo Narita and Bangkok to Hong Kong. Thai Airways has a long haul fleet renewal programme under way that, in addition to the A380s will also see some Boeing 787s, Boeing 777s and Airbus A350s added to the fleet in the coming years.
A journey to the heart of Thai Airways
A new fleet means also training the pilots that will fly it, so, as a continuation of my Thai Airways A380 experience in Toulouse I headed for Bangkok together with a group of European bloggers, in order to see for myself Thai's state-of-the-art A380 simulator.
So, I took off from Moscow on one of Thai Airway's Boeing 777-300s and changed the cold of Russia for the balmy temperatures of Thailand for a few days.
Oh, and did I mention that the food on-board was excellent!
After a couple of days adjusting to the new time zone and climate, enjoying the magnificent hospitality of the Dusit Thani resort in the seaside vacational town of Hua-Hin (a favourite among Thai elites!), headed for the capital, where, at Thai Airways' headquarters, the A380 simulator was waiting...
Simulating an A380 flight
It might look unassuming from the outside, but once you get in you realize the A380 simulator is such an an amazing technological wonder!
The most impressive thing of all is the level of detail of the landscapes you see "outside" the simulator, when you look through the cockpit's "windows". You immerse yourself in a totally different reality, a virtual reality World that is an exact representation of the real one: vehicles moving along the runway, airport facilities, other aircraft...
The following video gives you an idea of what is it like to taxi an A380 through Bankok International Airport, all simulated of course, like a sophisticated videogame with plenty of special effects (the simulator's cabin moves and shakes as well)...
The flight plan for our simulated plan was simple, basically, take off from Bangkok in adverse weather conditions, a strong tropical storm was conveniently programmed for the occasion, make some turns above the Thai capital and then perform a night landing.
All of Thai's A380 pilots go through the simulator periodically to train their reactions under a range of different flight conditions (for example, during our simulated flight we went down to just three operating engines, instead of the normal four!)...I just wish I had something like this when I was preparing to get my driving license!
Taking off...and heading towards a tropical storm...that showed up on opur radars as soon as we had "taken off"!
Night landing...some people that saw the following video asked me if it was real!