Story and photo by Sgt. Jonathan C. Thibault
4th Combat Aviation Brigade Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
During a time of furloughs and a government shutdown, pilots from 4th Infantry Division were conducting cost-effective training at Butts Army Airfield on Fort Carson, Oct. 9.
Pilots and air traffic controllers from 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Inf. Div., were conducting training on the Aviation Combined Arms Tactical Trainer.
AVCATT is a flight simulator that allows pilots and air traffic controllers to conduct a multitude of mission scenarios.
“This trainer allows six aircraft to do simulation flights at one time,” said Chief Warrant Officer 4 James Dowdy, senior Chinook pilot, Company B, 2nd GSAB, 4th Avn. Reg. “Mission parameters can be set for weather, time of day, enemy contact and visibility, and allows for major collective missions.”
The brigade is using the AVCATT to minimize the limitations of training during the shutdown, without expending the fuel and man-hours needed for actual flight missions.
“There is no substitute for training in an actual aircraft, but this training is as close as it gets,” said Dowdy. “The simulators were already paid for, and it costs the Army nothing for us to train. We are getting quality training and are able to teach our pilots and air traffic controllers without having to use fuel during the government shutdown.”
Although the shutdown has affected training, new pilots are still getting essential training to help prepare them for domestic missions and wartime tasks.
“We have paired experienced pilots with new pilots in the AVCATT training,” said Dowdy. “We are trying to bridge the gap of flight experience and awareness of our pilots. The shutdown has affected some of the training, but we won’t let it stop the vital training of our pilots.”
AVCATT is an interchangeable simulator that allows different types of aircraft to be simulated.
“Each modular can be changed from one aircraft to another in about 30 minutes. Some of the aircraft setups are Apaches, Black Hawks and Chinooks,” said Dowdy. “Currently, we have four modulars set up for Black Hawks, and two modulars setup for Chinooks. The ability of each modular to be changed quickly (allows) us to do a variety of different mission sets.”
2nd GSAB’s air traffic controllers are also receiving AVCATT training to sharpen their skills.
“With the low amount of air traffic during the shutdown, our air traffic controllers are keeping their skills sharp through this simulator training,” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Burnell, terminal platoon sergeant, Company F, 2nd GSAB. “The training allows the running of up to four different air traffic towers. They are able to simulate different amounts of aircraft, based on the level of the controller.”
Even if the shutdown persists, 4th CAB plans to use training such as the AVCATT to keep preparing its Soldiers.
“We plan on simulating bigger collective training exercises using this equipment,” said Dowdy. “We want to implement a tactical operating center, with all the personnel that we would use in a real-life scenario. This training will allow us to keep doing zero-cost training and keep our Soldiers’ flight operation aptitudes intact.”