Have you ever heard what sounds like dogs barking as your Virgin America flight taxis to the gate after landing? No, it’s not a pack of hounds loose in the cargo hold (Virgin America, by the way, does not transport pets in cargo). What you’re hearing is the sound of the aircraft equalizing hydraulic pressure as the pilots use just one engine to taxi to the gate. Single-engine taxiing is another way Virgin America saves fuel and strives to be more environmentally friendly.
We talked to Capt. Christopher Owens, our chief instructor pilot, about how Virgin America uses our flight simulator. For those of you not familiar with professional flight simulators, think of it like a large machine that perfectly replicates our Airbus A320-family aircraft. The avionics and flight deck controls are exactly the same as those in our A320s, and the simulator mimics the motion and sounds pilots would normally feel and hear in flight. In our interview, Capt. Owens explains why we need a flight simulator and how our flight instructors and pilots use it.