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Systems Replication


It is essential that all simulation systems work exactly as they do in the actual aircraft, even at the lower end of simulation. By contrast, the highest sim (FAA Level 7) only exists in the rotary-wing community. The faithful replication of vibrations and sound, properly synced with visuals, all come together to offer tremendous realism. When motion is added, the result can be close to complete replication of most aircraft flight environments.


The industry has realized great improvement by developing electric motion bases. Interestingly, the use of electric motors over hydraulics was led by lower-end manufacturers who used them to curtail costs. These motors are able to respond more quickly and accurately than hydraulics, thus improving pilot cues.


High-end simulator manufacturers have followed with the introduction of electric linear actuators. In contrast to the circular motion of a conventional electric motor, linear actuators create motion in a straight line. This allows for precise and subtle motion cues.


Cost


On the higher-end of simulation, (Levels 6 and 7 for FTDs, and Levels C and D for FFSs) costs have come down a little. However, multi-million dollar outlays still exist for the latest Level D simulators.


For lower-end BATDs and AATDs, nominal costs have remained fairly constant for the last decade. However, the capability of these


devices have increased, resulting in more realism for the money. Their sophistication is often times astounding, especially if you add vibration and motion. If training credit and FAA approvals were not in the equation, these devices today would in all likelihood be as capable as today’s FFS. It could well be that in the not too distant future that higher- and lower-end training devices will be very close in capability.


Innovative Leasing


One last emerging trend involves dry leasing very high-end simulators to customers, who then implement their own internal training programs. This is the approach that Metro Aviation’s Helicopter Flight Training Center (HFTC) uses. [Rotorcraft Pro reported on HFTC in the Jan-Feb 2016 issue.] Customers come to the Louisiana facility for training, and HFTC even goes so far as to train customers’ instructors on the sims at no cost.


To make all of this happen, HFTC leadership reached out to flight sim OEMs. Together, they developed programs that set up the devices at HFTC for free, with a guaranteed and negotiated minimum usage and hourly fee. Bottom line: It’s a win for both Metro Aviation and its customers who can now afford to use high-end simulators. With business model innovation like this, and with technology continuing to advance, the future of flight simulation should continue to reach even higher realms of realism and service.


rotorcraftpro.com


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