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Flight Instructors: Simulators Help Pilots Prepare For Landing At Any Airport

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This flight simulator at Lewis University teaches pilot trainees how to land at different types of airports. (CBS)

This flight simulator at Lewis University teaches pilot trainees how to land at different types of airports. (CBS)

Chris Martinez Chris Martinez
Chris Martinez is a general assignment reporter for CBS 2...
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(CBS) -- One suburban university spends hours training future pilots, getting them ready for any type of landing, in any type of condition.

CBS 2’s Chris Martinez sat in the cockpit of a flight simulator at Lewis University for a first-hand look.

It’s one of a pilot’s toughest jobs: safely getting an aircraft back on the ground.

By the time pilots take the controls of a commercial jet, they’ve logged hundreds of hours in simulators like the one at Lewis University in Romeoville.

“It’s as real of a training device as the aircraft itself,” says Bill Brogan, chairman of the university’s aviation and transportation department.

It’s this very type of training that should have prepared the pilots of the Asiana flight to land anywhere, in any condition.

Lights on the runway guide pilots in, revealing if they’re ready to land. The white lights signal if the plane is too high or too low.

As for what went wrong in San Francisco, flight instructors declined to speculate.

But they say training should have kicked in.

“You’re prepared to go into all airports,” Brogan said. “If you’ve reached the level of a Triple 7 pilot, you’ve got thousands and thousands of hours of flight time. You’ve flown internally, you’ve flown around the globe … It shouldn’t be a factor.”

An instructor Martinez interviewed Monday “landed” several times on a runway modeled after San Francisco. He said there’s nothing especially challenging or tricky about that landing.

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