Simulator experts Flight Safety International (FSI) of Lafayette, La. and Frasca International (FI) of Flushing, N.Y., joined forces to produce a simulation of the Eurocopter AS350 A-Star. They brought the system to the Air Medical Transport Conference in Minneapolis, October 20-22, for attendees to examine. Rotor & Wing accepted a special invitation to take it for an evaluation spin.
Being a motionless trainer, the Level-6 AS350 simulator is technically a flight training device (FTD). It consists of a molded shell that replicates the cockpit of an A-Star with its windows removed. It faces a wraparound monitor that provides a 200 x 60-degree field of view of a computer-generated world. Behind the mock flight deck is a small instructor’s station where training scenarios can be loaded and performance monitored on a pair of LCD computer screens.
While virtually any spot in the world and any weather condition possible can be depicted for the pilot, Rotor & Wing’s demonstration included normal takeoffs and landings, instrument approaches and autorotations at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) on both soupy days and clear nights.
Fidelity, the way the simulated world looks to the pilot, was very detailed. Flight modeling, the ability of the FTD to replicate the performance of the actual aircraft type, was also impressive, especially since the mathematic models used to produce them were developed without technical assistance from Eurocopter, the real aircraft’s manufacturer.
The AS350 FTD demonstrated at the conference is similar to one currently in use by Lake Charles, La.-based ERA Helicopters for a variety of training scenarios, including offshore oil platform operations.