Redbird Simulators has added another layer of realism to its
flight simulation systems by adding something called "Parrot," a
voice recognition system that gives students the experience of
talking with ATC during their simulator hours.
Redbird chairman and founder Jerry Gregoire told ANN at Oshkosh
this summer that the FAA has been asking for this functionality to
be added to flight simulation for 30 years, and that the "big"
simulator manufacturers keep telling the agency that the technology
is "about 10 years away." But Gregoire says the Redbird team has a
lot of experience in voice recognition technology, and all of their
simulator models allow the student pilot to get clearances, and is
very demanding when you don't acknowledge instructions.
The Parrot module is a stand-alone add-on which "watches" what is
going on in the simulation, and takes on the role of whatever ATC
service is plugged in. The software is smart enough to recognize
frequency changes and then match the service to the frequency
selected to the service at any given airport from a worldwide
It can even interpret the weather that was programmed in for the
simulation and give an accurate ATIS report based on those
parameters, and knows if the pilot does not acknowledge that they
have received that weather information on initial contact with ATC.
It can select the runway it wants to use based on winds, and time
stamps every hour with a different letter.
If a student uses non-standard language in communications, Parrot
will ask the pilot to "say again," training him or her in proper
radio communications techniques. And, Gregoire says, at any point
the student can stop and ask for help, and Parrot will stop being
ATC, and take on the role of instructor.