Cabin simulator helps ease flying fears 

(Source: Minnesota Public Radio) 

A newly arrived airliner at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport doesn’t have wings, or wheels, or engines. It’ll never leave the gate. But it will help more people gain the skills and confidence needed to make their travel goals a reality. 

The former Delta Air Lines cabin simulator, lined with rows of Boeing 737 seats, is now located in Concourse C at MSP, in what may be a first-of-its-kind airport installation. 

The simulator allows for “getting people with disabilities out to the airport, and giving them the experience without all the stress,” said Eric Lipp, executive director at the Open Doors Organization. It advises airports around the world on accessibility issues. 

The simulator provided a practice time for children or adults with mobility disabilities, autism or intellectual or developmental disabilities, so they can be comfortable with flying. People with service dogs can also take part. It is part of the Navigating MSP program, which allows travelers to essentially do a test flight in the airport. 

The simulator has a big swinging aircraft door, the familiar curved walls, rounded windows and a single aisle with seven rows of airliner seats. The mock cabin can also be used by police and fire personnel, to train for security or medical emergencies on planes, as well as for other people who interact with travelers. 

The Navigating MSP program offers scheduled monthly group events at the airport, with pre-registration required. The events are free, but because everyone has to pass through regular TSA security checkpoints, participants will have to check in at an airport kiosk and provide a full name and date of birth for all attendees. Anyone 18 or older will have to present a valid picture ID.