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Loft Dynamics has received the world’s first qualification of a virtual reality (VR) flight simulation training device (FSTD) Level 3 in an Airbus Helicopters H125, enabling operators and pilots to execute license and operator proficiency checks under European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) regulations.
“The qualification allows us to perform credited training and checking,” said Fabian Riesen, CEO of Loft Dynamics. “Realistic scenario-based lessons targeted to the trainee’s needs support the development of pilot competencies.”
To prove the concept, Loft Dynamics conducted a scientific research project where 33 people were taught flying maneuvers using a Robinson R22 training device, following a common private pilot license for helicopter (PPL(H)) syllabus.
At the end of the training, the performance in the simulator was compared with the skills shown during a verification flight in a real helicopter, and participants were able to apply the equivalent learnings in the real helicopter.
For type rated pilots, the quality of the simulator is confirmed when they can fly within the same tolerances as in reality, without having flown the device before and without getting motion sickness.
“We achieved this with our H125, and we are proud to be able to satisfy the pilots’ training with our sophisticated system,” Riesen said. “We have only reached this because we develop and assemble all the components in-house.”
Riesen said training in an actual helicopter has major disadvantages since situations can only be experienced to a limited extent. It is sometimes only possible to theoretically discuss certain procedures in flight, and therefore, not all situations can be realistically practiced.
In a simulator, the pilot can experience everything that would take place in an emergency situation without any risk.
Evidence based training is already proven in the airline industry, and with this knowledge and the technology of the VR training device, Loft Dynamics is able to implement these concepts in single-pilot helicopter operations.
“Our device allows us to execute automatic demonstrations,” Riesen said. “This enables us to show a vortex ring state, for example, enabling the pilot to practice the correct recovery procedure.”
The H125 simulator provides a realistic simulation of a helicopter’s behavior through an exceptional visual system, which allows pilots to maneuver close to the ground — even on slopy surfaces.
“We are now able to execute our license and operator proficiency checks on the simulator, which saves costs and enhances the skills of our pilots,” said Gerold Biner, CEO and pilot of Air Zermatt. “We’re now training with a helicopter powered by electricity made of hydropower. We want to go in this direction to fill our training time with efficient concepts. Air Zermatt develops training scenarios that all pilots can benefit from, including junior pilots all the way up to highly experienced experts.”
Loft Dynamics’s VR FSTD opens the door for more realistic training concepts, and realistic flight sessions and scenario-based training can be tailored to a trainees’ needs. As a result, trainees can develop situation awareness, workload management, procedure execution, leadership qualities, problem solving abilities and decision-making competencies.
The device can be used to train basic maneuvers to student pilots, as well as emergency procedure skills and scenario-based training to pilots at any experience level. Loft Dynamics believes balancing the use of the simulator and flying in an actual aircraft provides better training results and increases flight safety.
The company is currently working with Airbus Helicopters to co-develop a VR training device for the twin-engine H145 helicopter.
“As we did with the H125 VR simulator, our Airbus pilots and experts will work hand-in-hand with the team at Loft Dynamics, bringing our OEM [original equipment manufacturer] experience to this affordable, flexible training solution that will surely answer our customer’s requirements while also adhering to our high standards for operational safety,” said Christoph Zammert, executive vice president of customer support and services at Airbus Helicopters.
Once qualified, the H145 VR simulator will allow pilots to perform proficiency checks and type ratings, train hoist operations, fly with night vision goggles and execute instrument ratings.
Already offered for the Robinson R22 and Airbus H125 training devices, Loft Dynamics will also provide the FSTD organization service to H145 simulator operators, supporting its customers in planning, implementing, qualifying and operating the device.
“It is very important for us to profit from the know-how and support of the simulator manufacturer, allowing us to focus on our key competencies,” Biner said.