On one of my recent business trips to Dallas I had a special opportunity to visit part of American Airlines’ training center. The main objective for the visit was actually to see the Integrated Operations Center (IOC) since I’ve been working on some software that gets used there and our managers wanted us to see how the software gets used in real life.
As a side note, if you ever want to read a really interesting article about how airlines handle diversions and cancelled flights you should read the article that Time magazine wrote awhile back. The place and people talked about in the article are where I got to visit. You can check it out here.
We ended up getting to tour way more than just the IOC and I had a blast doing so. We got to see some of the areas where new flight attendants get trained on aircraft and emergency situations. Most of their training consists of sitting in classrooms over in another building across the street but when it comes time to learning how to actually open an aircraft door and all that good jazz, this is where they do it.
Apparently it’s not uncommon for people to get hurt when they’re trying out the inflatable slide. I’m guessing more so because people start trying to have too much fun with it rather than the fact that they’re actually problematic. Hopefully I’ll never have to find out.
What was really crazy to me were the aircraft simulators. There were huge bays with simulators that pilots use for training and testing. They’re required to complete mandatory review tests on them every year. When you go inside it’s basically a cockpit with a training area. In another room nearby the entire simulation is controlled by the test engineers.
And there just happened to be one that was open and the ramp was down and for some crazy reason the guy giving us the tour let us go in. It was sweet. Here’s what the simulator looks like from the inside:
After seeing all the cool flight attendant and pilot training areas we went over to the IOC. We started by getting an overview of the room from this vantage point:
We also eventually go to go down to one of the desks and look at a bunch of software in action. It was fascinating hearing all of the calls that were being handled around me while I was down there. One of them that I overheard was dealing with a plane that was unbalanced because a gate agent upgraded too many people to first class at the last minute so the weight distribution was screwed up because the baggage hadn’t been loaded to account for that shift in weight. It’s crazy to think about all the things that go into a successful flight that we normally never think about!
And to end this post on a completely random note, this is the rental car that I had for this trip:
It had 3 miles on it when I drove it out of the rental car center. It was my first ever brand spanking new car rental.