My Qi-Meritus.Mahara drivers pilot for Gulf Air

My Qi-Meritus.Mahara drivers pilot a GP2-A330 Powered by Gulf Air Tuesday, April 21, 2009 - Before returning to GP2 Asia action this week-end on the Bahrain International Circuit at Sakhir, Marco Bonanomi and Alvaro Parente, the two drivers...

My Qi-Meritus.Mahara drivers pilot a GP2-A330 Powered by Gulf Air

Tuesday, April 21, 2009 - Before returning to GP2 Asia action this week-end on the Bahrain International Circuit at Sakhir, Marco Bonanomi and Alvaro Parente, the two drivers for My QI Meritus.Mahara have been given the opportunity to fly and land a A330 Airbus at Bahrain Airport. This is as a result of an invitation from Gulf Air, the title sponsor of the Grand Prix. But the landing will be carried out in the simulator at the the Gulf Air Flight Simulator Centre located at Gulf Air's headquarters in Muharraq on Wednesday April 22, 2009, a state-of-the-art facility, incorporating the latest technologies, modern infrastructure and a unique design, the first of its kind in the Gulf region.

Captain John O'Loughlin, one of Gulf Air's simulator instructors said: "The drivers will get to check the speed down the BIC pit straight before landing the Airbus A330, the largest member of the twin engine A300 series, having a maximum takeoff weight of 275 metric tonnes. It is a large capacity, wide body, twin engine, medium to long range commercial passenger airliner. Usually the A330 can seat up to a maximum of 335 passengers. It will be interesting to compare the skills of the GP2 Asia drivers from an airline pilot's point of view. Manoeuvring an airplane of two hundred tons is of course different than that of a racing car. On the other hand pilots do not have to cope with the G-forces experienced by racing drivers. Pilots also operate as a team, supporting each other, whereas racing drivers work in isolation fighting for track position against their fellow competitors.

Peter Thompson, Team founder goes on to say: "I have great trust in Captain O'Loughlin’s ability to train Marco and Alvaro. As a sixteen year old, Captain O'Loughlin taught me how to fly on our home village airfield in Castlebridge Ireland. I will never forget my first solo flight in a "beagle pup" and Captain O'Loughlin standing on the runway waiting for me''

"I am confident that My Qi-Meritus.Mahara drivers will be able to perform to an acceptable standard," said Raad Abduljawad the team Chairman. "Pilots have to renew their qualifications on a regular basis. This is a good opportunity for someone highly skilled in racing to operate in another arena, and test their skills and reflexes. I hope that Gulf Air will make good progress toward validating Marco Bonanomi and Alvaro Parente's hours toward a A330 aircraft type rating before the GP2 Asia race this weekend since they will be actually able to log instructed simulator time."

Alvaro Parente:" The flight training was a great experience. We simulated a take off and followed a flight path over the BIC. It was really fun to race down the pit straight at over 400kph. Afterward we lined up for the final approach into Bahrain International Airport. I did not realize a pilot had so much to deal with. He has so many responsibilities compared to a racing a car. When I was in command I had to correct the pitch, maintain correct heading, mind the air speed to prevent stalling, keep the ball on the horizon. So much work and so much concentration, but there is always the computer advising you and preventing errors. For example, when I was low on final the computer told me to drop the landing gear. It looks easy compared to a racing car because a plane is heavier and reacts slower to each command input, but in emergency or technical situations it's the experience of the captain that counts. However, we should leave it to well-trained professionals."

Marco Bonanomi: "I landed twice in day time and night time conditions. What a feeling! We also had some difficulties and one time the front tyres blew out when landing and on takeoff we lost an engine but the captain was focused and acted with natural moves and I never felt in danger.

"Racing Fever" is an important element of My Qi-Meritus.Mahara team promotional strategy ahead of the Bahrain International Circuit's event in the region as a lead-in to the Formula One event ahead of April's Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. The drivers will be racing in front of hundreds of Questnet fans from Bahrain and the Middle East region.

Meet point - 7am - Wednesday April 22, 2009 Gulf Air Flight Simulator Centre located at Gulf Air's headquarters in Muharraq

-credit: meritusracing.com

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About this article
Series FIA F2
Drivers Marco Bonanomi , Alvaro Parente