Summer 2023

EFM offers pushback simulator option

EFM offers pushback simulator option

As we have seen, handlers have many tools to offer training to their employees. For instance, German handler EFM, a subsidiary of the airline Deutsche Lufthansa and Munich Airport Company (FMG), has a tow tractor simulator on which it trains its employees.

EFM is responsible for all pushback and towing activity at Munich Airport and, in winter, it also handles all aircraft de-icing undertaken at the gateway. Its simulator was declared operational in January 2020 following five months of development in collaboration with ATCSim of Kaufbeuren, Bavaria.

ATCSim is a software company focused primarily on developing and building air traffic control simulators. This pushback sim was their first simulator of this kind, notes Christoph Titze, and was developed jointly by the two businesses.

Titze was, until March 2021, managing director of EFM, and played a leading role in driving the simulator project for the company. Now, he acts as a senior consultant to EFM.

The simulator has places for two trainees and one trainer. Each trainee position can be operated separately, so the simulator can train two students independently from each other.

Experience shows that EFM can train three or four students per month on the simulator, or about 50 students a year.

High demand for simulator time means that there is a need to speed up the training in order to increase the number of trainees per month. Moreover, EFM also offers lessons in the simulator for other handling companies or self-handling airlines.

Says Titze: “The goal was to reduce the training time by half, for example from four to six weeks in former days to two to three weeks [with the help of the simulator].

“In January 2020 we had the first two students undertake the first simulator training, and students only need eight days before they are ready for their first live pushback. This was the final proof of concept we had.

“The trainer decides when the student is ready for live operation. In live operation the trainee is still accompanied by a trainer, but with much less attention necessary as the trainee has had the chance to do up to 500 pushbacks in the sim. The student is much more familiar with the whole scene and physical challenges involving the aircraft and the vehicle.”

With regard to the potential for offering an aircraft de-icing simulator, Titze is aware of the de-icing simulator that Vestergaard has and, he says, “It could be possible that EFM will also invest in this kind of simulator in the near future, but there are no actual plans for this yet.”