News / Toronto

Toronto area flight simulator helps people conquer fear of flying

A flight simulator company has found a new use for their replica Boeing 777 cockpit: helping people conquer their fear of flying.

At uFly Simulator in Mississauga, aviophobes can tackle their turbulence terrors via a three-hour, one-on-one course with instructor Luigi Salvi.

Most people are afraid of air travel because they don't know how planes work, Salvi says. The uFly course seeks to change that, teaching participants the ins and outs of air travel, from what sounds to expect when the landing gear is deployed to what happens behind the cockpit door.

"Usually fear is just a lack of knowledge," Salvi said. "If you know how everything works, it's not such a big deal."

Salvi works with each participant to figure out what triggers their fear of flying, and tries to address that in the course. For example, one participant became terrified when the air conditioner on board stopped when the engine started.

"It's not broken or anything," said Salvi. "They just need all the available air pressure to start the engine."

And if a client is coming in to get help with an upcoming trip, Salvi will walk them through the details of their specific flight plan. He'll also consult with them after their flight, and says about 80 per cent of participants say the course was helpful.

Despite a recent spate of headline-grabbing aircraft accidents – from Malaysian Air flight MH370 to Sunday's crash landing at Halifax's Stanfield Airport – Salvi says business remains steady regardless of what's in the news.

"It's not like 30 or 40 years ago when air travel was still new," he said. "Flying is a very regular thing for people, and most of us realize it's still one of the safest ways to travel."

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