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Loft Dynamics partners with Dufour to develop VR eVTOL flight simulator

By Jen Nevans | May 24, 2024

Estimated reading time 4 minutes, seconds.

Loft Dynamics is expanding into the advanced air mobility (AAM) sector, announcing on May 24 plans to develop a virtual reality (VR) flight simulator for eVTOL aircraft — and the Swiss-based simulation developer didn’t have to travel far to find its eVTOL partner for this endeavor.  

“Our partnership with Dufour Aerospace represents a big stride forward in training a wider range of pilots at a time when operators need it most,” said Fabi Riesen, founder and CEO of Loft Dynamics. “It also lays groundwork for the eventual certification of our eVTOL simulator.”

From its headquarters in Switzerland, along with its Canadian site in Montreal, Quebec, Dufour is designing hybrid-electric tilt-wing VTOL aircraft. This includes a small uncrewed drone that the company calls Aero2, as well as a larger Aero3 aircraft, which Dufour claims will be able to carry out helicopter missions, including emergency medical services, search-and-rescue, and VIP transport.

The Aero3 eVTOL simulator is currently in development and scheduled to enter the market in early 2025. The system will be used to help Dufour create a pilot training interface using technology that is “undoubtedly superior among extended reality training solutions,” said Thomas Pfammatter, Dufour’s CEO and founder.

“It allows pilots to integrate new concepts quickly and effectively, including tilt-wing operation and fountain lift and suckdown ground effects at low to zero speeds,” Pfammatter said. “Most importantly, it enables our pilots to gain experience in a safe and hyper-realistic environment. This will generate invaluable data as we develop the aircraft.” 

Pfammatter is an Air Zermatt helicopter rescue pilot with more than 4,500 missions under his belt. Highly familiar with Loft Dynamics’ VR flight simulation training devices, Pfammatter called the system “the most realistic simulator” that he has flown.

The partnership between Loft Dynamics and Dufour comes at a time when the industry is facing a global shortage of pilots as a result of mass retirements, an aging pilot population, and the introduction of emerging sectors like eVTOL. Loft Dynamics said this in effect puts a strain on the industry’s capacity to train and scale the pilot workforce, making VR simulators for pilot training a crucial tool.

Loft Dynamics is the developer of the first and only VR full-motion simulator qualified by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as an EASA FTD Level 3 flight simulation training device (FSTD). This allows Airbus H125 (AS350 B3e) pilots to complete annual license proficiency checks for AS350/EC130 type rating revalidation and biannual operator proficiency checks using Loft Dynamics’ simulators.

“We started with helicopters, which are extremely challenging to simulate — the physics, motion, and human factors are more complex than in all other aircraft,” Riesen said. “This is why proving and qualifying our technology in the helicopter market, even beyond what’s mandated at the regulatory level, offers a significant advantage as we move into eVTOLs.”

The company believes its high-resolution VR system, with its dynamic six degrees of freedom motion platform, allows the technology to be transferrable and valuable to the eVTOL sector.

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