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(Written by and photographs taken by Katherine Williams. Larry Heintz photograph taken at time of award.)

Excitement was in the air as people arrived for the dedication of the new advanced flight simulator in Mareeba, in memory of Larry Heintz, who made such an impact in aviation safety within MAF and beyond. Larry was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2015, and died in 2018.

Jane Heintz, Larry’s widow represented the family at the ceremony. Jane shared that, “It is an honour to represent my husband Larry. I feel the simulator would have made Larry very happy”. She went on to say that “Larry loved to visit Australia with MAF. His passion was safety, so the fact that the simulator will assist in ensuring that new pilots will be trained in safety standards, as well as the renewal of MAF pilot skills made this the perfect project to fund in his memory”.

“I’m very proud of Larry. He worked incredibly hard for safety and would research around the topic greatly. He was very passionate about having a ‘Just Culture’ within MAF”. A ‘just culture is defined as a culture in which from line operators and others are not punished for actions, omissions or decision taken by them that are commensurate with their experience and training, but where gross negligence, wilful violations and destructive acts are not tolerated. This meant that staff were more likely to report accidents and incidents, so that trends could be identified and individual pilots were not blamed for mistakes.

Jane Heintz with the new simulator

Funding for the simulator was donated as a legacy to MAF by Larry’s aunt Eva Shaver. Jane explains, “Aunt Eva was not a wealthy lady but she left the bulk of her estate to MAF. She was an incredibly generous lady who financially supported us throughout our time with MAF”.

Larry Heintz served with MAF for over 28 years, significantly contributing to the culture of safety awareness within the organisation and beyond. His celebrated management system lead to the Africa region accident rate being at zero. He also encouraged potential hazards to be reported, therefore preventing accidents.

Andy Little, Head of Training at the Mareeba Flight Training Centre explained the advantages of the new simulator, and why the Flight Training Centre (FTC) at Mareeba are so excited to have this new piece of equipment:

· It is a three in one simulator, so the cockpit can be set up to simulate three different aircraft, including a multi engine layout.

· New pilots can use the SIM for practising visual flying, such as take-off and landing.

· Students can practise flying in difficult weather conditions.

· Dual controls mean the student is able to watch the instructor react in a scenario and then copy them.

· The simulator will improve training standardisation in teaching MAF’s way of flying

· Training in a simulator is far more cost effective.

· With larger screens visuals are far clearer.

Andy speaking at the dedication

Luke Newell is currently studying his multi engine instrument rating course with the FTC. Luke explains that “students will be able to practice in a safe environment in the simulator, particularly with emergency procedures”. He also recognised that practising in the simulator is considerably cheaper than practising in an actual aeroplane, so the SIM will be an invaluable tool.

Instructors Hans Cools and Bridget Ingham trying out the new simulator

Larry Heintz was recognised by the United Nations (UN) in 2015 with the Humanitarian Aviation Recognition Award for his outstanding contribution towards humanitarian aviation activities, promoting aviation safety throughout humanitarian air operations.

MAF is incredibly grateful to Larry and Jane for their contribution over many years. The Mareeba simulator is a testament to Larry and Eva Shaver’s dedication to MAF’s mission of serving the world’s most isolated people.

The Simulator Plaque

Larry Heintz receiving his award



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