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May 16, 2000

ULM displays new agriculture flight simulator

Officials from the University of Louisiana at Monroe gathered with the media Tuesday to show off the University's latest addition to its Department of Aviation -- a $600,000 agriculture flight simulator.

The simulator is one of only two of its kind in the nation. The other one was created as a model to use to build this simulator for ULM.

"This agriculture flight simulator gives us a great deal of flexibility in training people to deal with malfunctions and emergencies," John Filhiol, Head of the Department of Aviation at ULM, said. "This piece of equipment allows us to perform a service for the agriculture aviation community that before has not been available. That service is to give people experience in certain agricultural aircraft operations at a cost of only about 40 percent of what it would cost to do it in the airplane."

The value of the simulator is not just in saving dollars. Most agriculture airplanes do not have two seats, so training in the air is difficult. The new simulator has the capabilities of duplicating the effect of changes in air speed and pump droplet sizes and can also duplicate changes in the nozzles through which spray is pump. This allows the recording of spray drift which can be passed along to pilots in a way that wasn't previously available.

Filhiol said there are plans to do further research with the new simulators that weren't previously available.

"We want to do research on the psychological effects on pilots," Filhiol said. "Things like lack of sleep, the effects of alcohol and drugs, smoking and severe changes in blood sugar. We want to record the pilot's reactions in regard to these effects."

The agriculture flight simulator will be housed in ULM's new $8 Airway Sciences/Computer Science Building once that facility is complete. Ground was broken on the three-story 49,000 square feet facility in January. The Department of Aviation and an aviation museum will be housed on the first floor of the new building and the Computer Science Department on the second and third floors. The project is being funded 50 percent by the state and 50 percent by the Federal Aviation Administration.

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