Thai Airways to open up its professional flight simulators to the public

As airlines look to find new ways of raising revenue with much of their fleets grounded due to COVID-19, Thai Airways has decided to open up the ultimate experience for would-be pilots.

Starting next month, the airline will allow members of the public to access its professional flight simulators, used by pilots for training purposes.

Thai Airways will make available simulators they use for four aircraft - the Airbus A380, Boeing 777-300ER, Boeing 747-400 and Boeing 737-400 - at its headquarters in Bangkok's Chatuchak district.

Professional flight simulators can cost well over $10 million each and it is rare that members of the public get access to them.

The airline said people who sign up will experience the cockpit flight simulator, cabin mock-up service trainer, cabin emergency evacuation trainer, and door trainer.

Pilots and co-pilots will accompany guests during the experience. They can either try their hand at flying themselves or simply enjoy the ride.

There are three packages available: basic (30 minutes) costing 12,000 baht ($A536) for two users; deluxe (60 minutes), 24,000 baht for two users; and ultimate (90 minutes) 36,000 baht for three users.

The airline said the opening of the simulators to the public would not impact its pilot training. Access to simulators has become crucial during the pandemic, with pilots still required to complete the equivalent of several take offs and landings in the aircraft they fly to maintain their certification.

With international borders closed, South Korea's Asiana airlines recently had its pilots take off and land empty A380 superjumbos to keep them certified, since they could no longer access the simulators they normally use in Thailand.

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Thai Airways is undergoing a restructure of about 350 billion baht of debt after receiving approval from a bankruptcy court earlier this month. The airline, and Thailand as a whole, has been struck badly by travel restrictions due to COVID-19.

Tourism was responsible for about 20 per cent of Thailand's GDP in 2019. In an effort to help the industry, the Thai government has introduced incentives for locals to travel domestically, with discounts of up to 40 per cent on airfares and accommodation available.

The latest move from Thai Airways follows its transformation of the cafeteria at its headquarters to an airline-themed restaurant open to the public. It features cabin crew greeting and serving customers along with furniture made from plane parts.

It's one of several ways airlines are raising revenue during the COVID-19 crisis. Qantas recently announced a sightseeing flight over Australia, and has also sold off excess business class pyjamas and amenity kits, along with drinks carts from its retired 747s. Several other airlines have also announced sightseeing flights.  

See: thaiflyex.thaiairways.com/

See also: Thai Airways opens restaurant using plane parts

See also: Qantas sells 1000 fully stocked drink carts from retired 747s

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