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New flight simulator building opens at NF Airbase

Posted at 5:39 PM, Aug 16, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-17 11:26:51-04

A ribbon-cutting at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station on Tuesday officially opened a new flight simulator building. The project took two years and cost $5.2 million.

Briefing rooms are ready to be used but the high-tech equipment that is the simulator, while funded, still has to arrive.

"That's been the question of the day," said 914th Wing Commander Col. Brian Bowman. "I don't have a timetable but I expect that it will be soon."

When up in operation, the facility can handle over 450 Airmen from across the country every year for training using state-of-the-art motion and visuals. It will also provide 18 new full-time jobs.

The new facility was constructed with hopes of setting up a simulator for C-130 aircraft, but officials have been pushing to get a simulator for the KC-135 tanker instead because those aircraft should be in service for another 20 to 30 years - and they will be coming back to the Niagara Falls Airbase.

Eight KC-135 tankers are planned to come to the base next year to replace the current fleet of C-130's.  The simulator could then be expanded to house "boom operator" training as well.

The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is Niagara County's largest employer with an annual economic impact of close to $90 million. The simulator is seen as a crucial part of securing a permanent home for a KC-135 fleet.

7 Eyewitness News reporter Ed Reilly was at the airbase for the event.