Opinicus readying Eclipse simulators

 - July 3, 2007, 10:03 AM

Simulator manufacturer Opinicus is in the final stages of completing four full-motion simulators and one fixed training device for the Eclipse 500 very light jet. FAA certification of the full-motion simulator is expected in the third quarter, according to Opinicus president Jim Takats, with training set to begin at Eclipse headquarters in September.

At Opinicus’s Lutz, Fla. factory, Eclipse Aviation test pilots performed acceptance tests on the Model 500 level-6 flight training device in mid-March. The FTD received FAA certification in late May, Takats said.

Both the FTD and the full-motion level-D simulators are running aerodynamic and performance data for early versions of the Eclipse 500 without the performance improvement package that includes aerodynamic modifications, aluminum tip tanks and the Avio NG avionics suite.

Opinicus engineers have incorporated the data for the performance improvements, but, said Takats, “from a training standpoint and going into the FAA, we are going to match the aircraft configuration for aircraft number one. You can’t really have features on the simulator that don’t exist on the aircraft. We’ll disable those [added performance features] for training.”

When Eclipse upgrades early airplanes to the performance improvement configuration and as airplanes with the new features begin rolling off the assembly line, Opinicus will switch the simulator to the new configuration. Pilots will be able to train on either type.

Opinicus has manufactured full-motion simulators for the McDonnell Douglas DC-9 and Airbus A320. The Eclipse simulators and FTD feature the Rockwell Collins EP-1000CT visual system, which uses digital light processing technology in a package that is much lighter but delivers greater resolution than traditional simulator projectors.

The simulator software is designed to be scalable to almost any device used for training, from laptop computers to the level-D full-motion simulator. “The same software that’s running in the level-D simulator is running in the laptop,” said Takats, “so there’s no negative training. Everything is contained in configuration management so any improvements done to the level-D software flow down to the lower-level devices.”

The level-D simulator’s motion base is driven by Opinicus’ Real Feel electronic control loading system instead of hydraulics. The simulator’s lightweight structure results in a full-up weight of less than 16,000 pounds, more than 10,000 pounds lighter than
a typical Boeing 737 simulator built by another manufacturer, according to Takats.