DVisibility is good, the parallel runways of Frankfurt Airport are clearly visible, the side light signals on the runway tell Daniel Wilk that everything is OK. The landing flaps are extended, a computer voice announces the altitude: 1000, 500, 100, with “minimum” in between, which means the last point in time at which Wilk could abort the landing. But there is no reason for that this time. The touchdown point marked by black rubber abrasion is reached immediately. A short, slight vibration, the main landing gear has contact with the ground, the nose wheels touch down on the runway immediately afterwards. The reverse thrust quickly decelerates the aircraft for a clean landing.
Wilk could also have attempted to land that morning with a burning engine, a pinched landing gear, or a ruptured cargo door. All he had to do was tell his colleague Thorsten Bellack. He is the head of the new Boeing 787-9 simulator, which has just been set up and put into operation at Frankfurt Airport. With the help of the simulator’s high-performance computers, Bellack can specify any conceivable defect and any possible emergency at any time. You never want to experience one live, but the pilots still have to be as prepared as possible. After all, in an emergency, they have to be able to work through the necessary routines quickly, precisely and with professional coolness, which should ultimately prevent worse things from happening. Optimal preparation means that the instruments, levers, switches and lights in the simulator cockpit are original parts, as installed in the aircraft. The simulation should also correspond exactly to that in the real aircraft in terms of haptic perception. This even applies to the feigning of technical defects – triggers for Bellack flooding the cockpit with smoke.