HAI Convention News

Simulator works its magic on R22, R44

 - February 23, 2008, 2:17 PM

Merlin Simulation (Booth No. 3606) is here touting its approval of the only Robinson R22 VFR/IFR flight-training device built in accordance with FAA national simulator program (NSP) criteria. The FAA awarded level-3 certification to the non-motion simulator in August 2006.

According to Merlin president Ken Zimmerman, the device is the only simulator that accurately replicates the “unique and challenging” flight characteristics of the Robinson R22. The company used R22 flight test data to validate the performance of the simulator. The Boulder, Colo. company also made slight variations to the simulator to mimic the performance of the R44.

“This is an important step forward from previously certified R22 FTDs that relied on game software, generic or subjective information and limited visual cues, but lacked the crucial visual and certified flight characteristics necessary for a more advanced learning experience,” Zimmerman said. “Given the quick responsiveness and steep learning curve of the R22/R44, this product line finally provides the necessary look, feel and flight characteristics of the actual R22/R44 for serious training.”

Zimmerman added that the advanced technology, “superior” visual imagery and enhanced modeling of the simulator have in some cases even reduced actual flight training time. One student– after using the simulator–learned to hover in less than an hour of actual flight time, he said, adding that it takes most students an average of six or seven hours to learn to hover.

The device has a 180-degree horizontal field of view, which provides the student with the peripheral visual cues a pilot would use in real helicopters and enhanced shadow graphics that improve depth perception, Zimmerman said.

The simulator can also emulate VFR, low visibility and whiteout conditions and features more than 35 malfunctions and training scenarios, such as collision avoidance, to prepare students for emergency situations. Instructors can also teach autorotation, pinnacle landing, pedal turns, hovering and low-speed flying skills, using a cattle-herding program in which the student must steer cattle back to their barn.

Another benefit of the simulator, according to Zimmerman, is the cost. He said the company’s goal is to design affordable flight training devices for small flight schools. The static simulator retails for $119,000 and the mobile simulator costs $129,000. Merlin is offering a 15-percent discount here at Heli-Expo’08.

“Operators at last have available an affordable sophisticated simulator that has been needed for a long time,” Zimmerman said.