LU Aeronautics Instructors Give Insight into Missing Malaysian J - - ABC13

LU Aeronautics Instructors Give Insight into Missing Malaysian Jet Mystery


Lynchburg, VA- There are now many questions surrounding the pilots for Malaysian Airlines flight 370, including why such an experienced flier had a simulator in his home. Authorities are also looking into why the plane's course was changed mid-flight.

We spoke to instructors at Liberty University's School of Aeronautics to get some insight into just how common personal flight simulators are, and what it takes to change a flight's course.

"I bet you could ask a hundred different pilots, 'do you have a flight sim at home?' And I bet you 90% of them say, 'oh yeah, I've got one at home,'" said Kevin Martin, Simulator Manager at LU's School of Aeronautics.

Martin says a flight simulator is to a pilot what a batting cage is to a baseball player. So, it's no surprise a pilot of the missing Malaysian jet owns one. Martin himself has three.

"It allows a lot of folks to be able to fly aircraft they would never be able to," he said.

However, Dean Dave Young says it is surprising the plane's course changed mid-flight, without the pilots contacting air traffic control.

"The pilot is going to always have radio contact or satellite contact with the air traffic control agency. He would always notify them of a change in route, unless there was an emergency, or unless he had a communications failure in his cockpit and was unable to," said Young.

According to recent reports, the flight's change in course happened before the pilot signed off, and communication was lost. We don't know why the flight's course was changed, but we do know how. Turns out it's about as easy as operating your GPS.

"Is this where we want to go? Yep! We hit enter. We're going to Roanoke," said Martin.

"Entering GPS information, or airport information, or altitude information. And as we say, it only takes a couple of key strokes to do that," said Young.

Dean Young says a pilot would change course for several reasons, including weather or an on-board emergency. However, there are few reasons why a pilot would not tell air traffic control about a change. Just further adding to the mystery surrounding Malaysian Airlines flight 370.

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