Although multi-engine simulators and flight training devices [FTDs] abound, the aviation world has seen little in the way of single-engine helicopter systems. But that changed in October of 2009 when FlightSafety International unveiled its AS350 FTD at the Air Medical Transport Conference in Minneapolis, Minn. The unit consists of a mock cockpit laid out almost exactly like a real Eurocopter A-Star. Outside the window, a computer-generated world awaits in rich detail that can switch from bright and sunny to dark and gloomy with the stroke of a computer key from the instructor’s console immediately behind the seats. But more are on the way.
"FlightSafety is currently building other single-engine flight training devices," said Terry Palmer, the company’s manager of rotorcraft programs. "Flight training devices are simulators without motion to be used for pilots flying Bell 206s, 407s and Eurocopter A-Stars. And we will have these flight training devices rated to Level 7, which is the optimum training credit available from the FAA."
"There are vibrators in there to make it feel like its moving, even though there is no motion base," explained Palmer.
The design and manufacturing program for the single-engine FTDs is nearing completion. According to Palmer, the A-Star will be available this year in April or May, and the Bell 206s and 407s in the summer.
When asked if there are any single-engine piston FTDs on the drawing board, Palmer replied that there are none, but emphasized that it could change.