Plane crash at FlightSafety building will hinder training on some Cessna aircraft

Contractors hired by the National Transportation and Safety Board work to remove parts of the King Air that crashed into the roof of the FlightSafety building last week. The damage to the building and the simulators it housed will affect training for Cessna pilots.
Contractors hired by the National Transportation and Safety Board work to remove parts of the King Air that crashed into the roof of the FlightSafety building last week. The damage to the building and the simulators it housed will affect training for Cessna pilots. The Wichita Eagle file photo

Last week’s tragic crash of a King Air 200 that hit and badly damaged FlightSafety’s Cessna Pilot Learning Center has disrupted pilot training in Wichita on some Citation jets and Caravans.

Wichita is FlightSafety’s only site for simulator training on some Cessna models.

FlightSafety and Cessna are working with customers to get them the pilot training they need, they said.

What happened is unprecedented, said Rolland Vincent, an aviation consultant with Rolland Vincent Associates.

“This is very disruptive,” Vincent said. “These flight simulators are very busy and are booked well in advance.”

FlightSafety will “definitely have to scramble,” he said.

Pilots come to get rated to fly a particular airplane or to receive recurring training.

The good news, he said, is that FlightSafety is good at managing situations and has a huge network of the “right people.”

They’ve also been Cessna’s partner for years, which is helpful, Vincent said. And they have lots of experience.

“They know what they’re doing,” he said.

The crash killed four people and left the building unstable, according to officials.

Cessna and FlightSafety are working together to develop training options, a Textron Aviation spokeswoman said.

“We are working closely with FlightSafety to identify alternative solutions for customers whose training schedules are affected,” Textron Aviation spokeswoman Nicole Alexander said in an e-mailed statement. “Our focus is ensuring that the training needs of our customers are met.”

The events are “heartbreaking,” FlightSafety said on its website.

“The primary thing that we’re doing is looking at our teammates and our customers to make sure they get what they need to get through this,” said FlightSafety spokesman Steve Phillips.

On Thursday, the pilot of the King Air, identified as Mark Goldstein, was taking off from Wichita Mid-Continent Airport when his left engine failed. He crashed into the roof of FlightSafety’s north building along Airport Road.

Goldstein and three people found inside a Caravan simulator in the building were killed.

About 100 employees and customers were in the building at the time of the crash.

FlightSafety thanked all who have reached out to them in this sad time, it said on its website.

“Your outpouring of sympathy touches and strengthens us,” it said. “Every day we hear that it’s our Teammates who make FlightSafety great. We agree. Which makes the tragic events at our Wichita center that much more heartbreaking. Please continue to keep those most affected in your thoughts and prayers.”

FlightSafety’s building at 1851 Airport Road, is among the five centers it operates in Wichita.

The company has been contacting customers scheduled to come in for training.

Training on Cessna’s Citation Sovereign, Sovereign-Plus, Citation X, Citation X-Plus, Encore, Encore-Plus, and CJ3 will commence on schedule, FlightSafety said on its website.

“Customers training in Wichita, Kansas on the Caravan CE-208, Caravan G600, Caravan G1000, Citation XLS-Plus, Citation XLS, Citation Mustang, Citation VII, Citation M2, Citation CJ3-Plus, and Citation CJ4 will be contacted within the next week to discuss training options,” it said.

The FlightSafety building that was damaged in the accident was its only worldwide location to offer simulation training in Cessna’s new Citation M2, the CJ4, Citation VII and the three Caravan models, it said on its website.

Each simulator costs from $10 million to $18 million each, depending on its features, Phillips said.

FlightSafety manufactures its simulators.

And, Phillips said, it operates a number of training facilities. It trains on Cessna products in Columbus, Ohio; Orlando, Fla.; Long Beach, Calif.; San Antonio, Texas; Atlanta; and Farnborough, England. However, he said, training options at each site differ.

Even though some of the simulators that were destroyed were one of a kind, training can be accomplished through “‘differences’ training and other options that are currently available to us elsewhere or will be in the near future,” Phillips said.

“Differences training” is training done in a flight simulator that’s typically used for training in a related aircraft with the same type certificate, he said.

The details are being worked out now, Phillips said.

FlightSafety’s Wichita sites are typically busy, said Vincent, the aviation consultant. Customers like to come to Wichita where the factory is located to get training, he said.

They often come to take delivery of an airplane or get one serviced while they’re here, he said.

Vincent also noted that the fourth quarter is a planemaker’s busiest time for deliveries.

“It’s a very prime time,” Vincent said.

The good news, however, is that FlightSafety operates a large network of facilities.

For example, it trains on Cessna products at a large center in Orlando.

Vincent said he expects FlightSafety and Cessna to take a variety of steps to try to meet the needs of customers.

Reach Molly McMillin at 316-269-6708 or mmcmillin@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @mmcmillin.

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