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the aircraft yourself. In any event, you end up with a device that faithfully represents the aircraft aerodynamically. Prior to the AATD, the above methodology was the only

way to gain approval and use a flight training device that could be used in a flight training program. The problem therefore is simply cost. An R & D program that starts off with a $1M initial investment results in a device that is just too expensive for the average flight school or small operator. In 2000, a small simulator company designed an inex-

pensive helicopter FTD that used Microsoft Flight Simulator as it graphics generator. This development took advantage of the advances in digital technology, graphics technology and PC computing power. The result was a generic helicopter replication that flew like a helicopter. That same year, the device was brought to Heli Expo. It

was housed in a 21 foot travel trailer and was the hit of the show. At that show, the simulator was actually sold to one forward thinking

individual, Mr. Ken Pyatt of Sky

Helicopters. It did not have FAA approval. While it is true that like the early days of airline simula-

tion you could make a case for reducing time in the helicop- ter to train, it was a hard sell and very few devices were sold. The FAA was approached to see if there was some way

to gain approval and credit for the device. Mr. Mike Henry and later, Mr. Bob Wright along with Larry Basham of AFS 800 stepped forward and put together an ad-hoc FAA/Industry team to develop a standard and evaluation

criteria. The result was the ATD/AATD and the generation of AC61-136. Today, the BATD and AATD are accepted forms by reg-

ulation and do receive training credit. This acceptance and regulatory approval has in fact brought affordable simula- tion to the General Aviation market. It is interesting to note that these relatively inexpensive devices approach the capa- bility of the most sophisticated devices offered as recently as 15 years ago. That fact has not gone un-noticed by the industry. Large

helicopter operators are taking advantage of the AATD and regardless of credit approval have come to the same realiza- tion as that of the airlines back in the early days. If I you can train competency in the AATD, it can be used to reduce costs of the overall training by spending less time in the actual aircraft. Further AATDs are “approved by the admin- istrator” and therefore with the approval of the cognizant POI, can be implemented in an internal training program. With the AATDs taking advantage of affordable tech-

nology, the gap between high-end full flight simulators and AATD’s is closing. It is rumored that the FAA is reviewing the possibility of allowing training credits for a level 5 FTD which is generic in nature and very close technically to the AATD. I will go out on a limb and predict that the two approaches will at some time merge and the end result will be a win-win for aviation in much lower cost simulation and pilots that are ultimately better trained. ◆

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